Triway Titans

Triway battles to the end, but Lutheran East swoops into regional final

The Triway Titans (17-9) and Lutheran East Falcons (13-13) squared off on Wednesday, March 14 in the Div. III regional semifinal at Canton Memorial Fieldhouse. The Titans came up just a bit short of pulling off the upset, losing to the defending Div. IV state champion Falcons 60-57.

Triway’s first-year head coach Ben Holt knew that his squad needed to control the tempo of the game from the onset. If Lutheran East’s athletic guards were allowed to run the court, the Titans might be in for a long night. Despite a sloppy first half of play that saw Triway turn the ball over to the Falcons 14 times, the Titans eventually settled down on offense.

Defensively Triway did enough to disrupt the Falcons from being able to quickly get up and down the floor and held Lutheran East to shooting just 3-of-16 from the field in the opening quarter. Triway’s Gabe Walker scored all of the Titan’s eight first-quarter points, and fellow senior Jordan Stokes had an 11-point barrage in the second quarter to help Triway to a slim 30-29 halftime advantage.

After trailing 35-31 in the third period of play, Lutheran East canned back-to-back 3-pointers, taking a 37-35 lead. The teams continued to trade the lead and fouls the rest of the quarter with Walker trying to will the Titans to an upset victory by pouring in 19 points in the second half.

Lutheran East’s Jordan Burge showed some senior leadership and went to work in the paint against the core of Triway’s defense. Burge scored eight points in the fourth quarter including a couple of free throws with 34 seconds to play to give the Falcons a 60-56 lead, and it was just enough to push the Falcons to victory. Triway had a chance to tie the game on their final possession, but a bad bounce went off a leg out of bounds with just two seconds remaining.

Holt was disappointed in the loss but praised his team’s effort. “We obviously wanted to win a basketball game tonight. We had them on the ropes, but the way we showed effort, heart, determination and toughness throughout the game makes me very proud. We didn’t always execute the way we wanted to tonight, but I can’t question our kids’ heart. They made our community and school proud. They are a great group of guys who are unselfish, focused on doing their job and trying to win a basketball game. We just came up short.”

The Titans had 14 turnovers in the first half but still held a slim 30-29 advantage at halftime. “We settled in and were able to take a halftime lead. We didn’t give up too many instances where a turnover turned into a layup. I thought we did a great job of defensive transition. We wanted to make it a half-court game. They had some guys step up and make some plays to help get them over the hump. They tried to out-athlete us, and we were trying to out-discipline them. Give Lutheran East credit. When it comes down to it, we didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

Holt praised his outgoing seniors. “They set a precedent for us this year in how hard they worked, how unselfish they were, how they cared for one another and our underclassmen. Our seniors aren’t guys that are going to say much, but they have led by example, and I think sometimes that is the best for a team. We’ve known they were going to go out and give it everything they had. I am very excited for who we have coming back on this team next year, but I am really going to miss this season’s seniors and the standards they set for our team moving forward. They have been high-character kids who in the game of life are going to go on and do great things.”

Walker wrapped up his Titan career with 29 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor and 8-of-13 from the charity stripe, to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Stokes played strong to close out his high school playing days with 13 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots. Bo Flinner chipped in six points, four rebounds and two steals. Kyle Sturgin battled and banged his way to leading the Titans in rebounds with seven while adding six points and one block. Bryce Biggs finished with three points and three boards while Braden Biggs had a tough night getting into the scoring column, but he contributed six rebounds and led the team with three assists to end his days as a Titan on the hardwood.

Lutheran East was led by Burge with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals while Farmer also finished with 14 points in large part due to shooting 3-of-8 from behind the arc. Dominic Braswell dropped in 13 points for the Panthers while Dave Gulley finished with 10 points, four assists and three rebounds to round out Lutheran East’s double-digit scorers. Nehemiah Benson could be found all over the floor as well, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Lutheran East will play in the regional final on Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m. in the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse, where they will face Canton Central Catholic (17-9), who beat Leavittsburg LaBrae, 39-36, in the earlier contested regional semifinal.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *