Botkins used its guard play, a fast start, and clutch shooting at the end to hand Marion Local another frustrating loss in Tuesday non-conference play.
Botkins, OH – To be sure, there’s about to come a point when Marion Local coach Kurt Goettemoeller starts wondering when a team with good athletes and two 6’9″ post players will come of age, get healthy, and become the feared, dominant team that people expected.
“Did you say two 6’9″ post players?”
Exactly, but it only counts if they’re both on the floor, and Tuesday night Marion Local senior Jack Knapke was forced to sit as a result of a sprained knee suffered last Friday in the Flyers conference loss at St. Henry.
In a game of different perspectives, one could say that too many things went wrong for the Flyers, who fell behind 11-0 early, and wouldn’t score their first points until the 2:50 mark of the first quarter. They trailed 14-5 at the end of eight minutes, only to go on an 11-4 run to start the second. They eventually tied the game, and took their first lead with a minute to go before halftime, thanks to wingman Mitchell Ranley, who exploded for 11 points in the quarter, and a trio of three-pointers.
But Botkins’ Collin Doseck would score a bucket in the waning seconds to send Botkins to the halftime locker room with a 26-24 lead…and that feeling of foreboding that comes when you feel like something just doesn’t match up.
Marion retook the lead in the third quarter, 39-35, on the shooting of Ranley (6 pts) and Daniel Everman (6 pts), and in the process sent Botkins big man Jordan Herzog to the bench with foul trouble…the Trojans’ perceived antidote for 6’9″ Marion post player Austin Niekamp, who sat on 9 points at the start of the fourth quarter.
But Niekamp would score just two point in the final eight minutes, and then the issue of things not matching up…….
Botkins has not one, or two, but a trio of the most threatening guards to be found anywhere in area Division IV – Collin Doseck, Rylyn Paul, and JJ Meyer – and those three took the game over in the final eight minutes. They scored 11 of the Trojans’ 14 points, outscored Marion, in total, 14-7, and Paul hit a pair of dagger three-pointers, one to take the lead at 40-39, and left wide open, one to pad the lead and eventual win, 49-46.
“We actually have three good shooters on our team,” said Paul, later. “We drive, we kick out to the open shooter, and that’s just how we play. Tonight, in that moment, it happened to be me to knock ’em down. Noah Topp shoots it well, Collin (Doseck) is consistent on threes…it just happened to be in my hands at that moment.”
Three-point shooting by Paul, Doseck, and Meyer…and of course, Topp…is the overture to the opera when you consider their impact because they handled the ball, they defended, and created a sense of energy and competitiveness, all equally well.
“We never did get in front of #1 tonight (Doseck),” said Kurt Goettemoeller, conceding his impact in all of those critical areas. Doseck continually attacked the interior of Marion’s defense, drawing extra attention away from outside shooters, and then found the right open man. And as it turned out, Rylyn Paul at the end.
But credit Marion, too, for falling into the 11-point crevasse to start the game, digging its way out, outscoring Botkins to take the lead going into the fourth quarter…only to come up short to Paul’s pair of three pointers at the end.
“We overcame our start,” said Goettemoeller. “Look, I was super proud of our kids because we have two kids out of our top seven who are injured, including our 6’9” kid (Knapke). I told them on the bus that we had to come over here like a cornered animal, like a bunch of crazed dogs.
“We gave up some baskets early, but we just weren’t making shots. Then our defense started getting some stops and that allowed us to get back into the game. We outscored them in the second, we outscored them in the third…I just felt like we made some critical mistakes at the end. We left a shooter open (Paul), a couple of other mistakes, and we just didn’t make enough plays. They’re a good, experienced team. We’re still trying to learn with a lot of kids who haven’t played varsity basketball. But overall, I was super happy with how hard we played.”
Mitchell Ranley would end up as Marion’s high scorer with 15 points, followed by Austin Niekamp’s 11, and Daniel Everman’s 10. Andrew Pohlman tossed in a pair of three-pointers to finish with 6 points.
For Botkins, Doseck and Paul each finished with 14 points, Herzog had 7, Grant Flora had 5, and JJ Meyer ended the game with 4 points.
“It was a good win for us,” said Botkins coach Phil Groves, scanning the book, afterwards. “Our kids play hard, they’ve played hard all year, and all the credit goes to them and their dedication. They bust their butt everyday and I’m proud of them.”
His guards were the difference down the stretch.
“We have great balance with our guard play,” added Groves. “One of these nights they’re all going to be clicking and we’re going to knock somebody off that’s really good. That’s what we work for. Just keep sharing the basketball and try to have that balance every game. Marion’s a good team, they got off to a slow start and Knapke didn’t play…but I really believe that come tournament time they’re going to be a district team, and maybe a regional team. Who knows? When you have two big post players like they have that can carry you a long way.
“Their guards are getting better. They had six threes tonight, they’re getting out of football mode now, and they’re well-coached.”
That night that Groves spoke about – the one where they knock off someone really good? Their Shelby County League rematch with Russia comes up on February 9. And dollars to dimes Groves and the Trojans have it circled on the calendar. Anything’s possible….
With Collin Doseck, Rylyn Paul, and JJ Meyer.