CLAYTON – The 2019-20 high school basketball season came to an end for the Brookville Blue Devils last Thursday at Northmont as the West Liberty-Salem Tigers defeated the Devils 53-51 in a Division III sectional tournament game, played at Northmont High School’s Thunderdome.
Brookville finishes with a final record of 12-11, the seventh straight season of double-digit wins for the Blue Devils. The loss also ended a streak of six straight years with a tournament victory.
The Tigers have eight seniors and in the end that may have been the difference, as so many experienced players knowing how to win a game determined the outcome. For most of three quarters West Liberty-Salem was the better team as they managed to get to more loose balls and the bounces off the rim of missed shots seemed to end up in their paws.
Despite all this, Brookville did not go down without a fight. Two surges in the final period got Brookville close, but unfortunately for the Blue Devils close did not parlay into tying or getting the lead.
For Brookville it was the end of the season for several seniors who spent years playing basketball together and representing their community. Noah Florkey, Joel Fye, Manny Willis and Tommy Dafler will go onto other ventures in their lives.
Those players must know the fun and joy they have given us who have watched them in their years on the basketball court.
The game started badly for Brookville as the Devils turned the ball over on its first three possessions. However, despite the slow start Brookville got back-to-back baskets by AJ Eller and Willis to grab a 4-3 lead.
However, a theme started. Brookville was unable to get close inside shots to drop. The Tigers took advantage. Five straight points made the score 8-4 West Liberty-Salem. The Tigers would never trail again.
WLS led 13-8 after the first quarter. It happened because Brookville was holding for the last shot, but a bad pass resulted in a scramble and the Tigers grabbing the ball and a half court heave at the hoop by Nick Burden and the ball swished through the net. Holden Nease had eight points for the Tigers in the frame as they made 3 long distance shots. Brookville got two points each from Willis and Tommy Dafler. Eller had four points.
West Liberty-Salem built the lead to 22-14 in the second frame as three trifectas were the only Tigers’ hoops. The Tigers had six trifectas in the first half.
Eller had six points and Sammy Dafler two for Brookville in the second period. The halftime score was 22-16 in the Tigers’ favor.
The frustration of the game could be summed up with 1:17 left in the first half. Eller was driving on a fast break when an intentional foul was called on the Tigers. Eller made the two free throws, but Brookville turned the ball over with on the possession. A chance to swing momentum was lost.
West Liberty-Salem went up 24-16 to begin the second half. Brookville did manage to slice into the lead and get it down to two at 24-22. Eller had two baskets and Daniel Dominique scored on a drive for Brookville.
However, the Tigers would score the next four points and would build maintain the six-point cushion the rest of the quarter. It was 32-26 with the final eight minutes left. Eller had six and Dominique four for Brookville in the third period.
The Tigers led by nine, at 37-28, with 6:24 left as they scored five of the first seven points in the period.
Behind Willis inside and Eller hitting free throws Brookville cut the lead to four at 40-36 with 4:31 left. Here the Tigers scored an old fashioned three-point play and a free throw for a 44-36 lead with 2:35 to go.
Brookville battled back as Eller hit a three pointer. However, at the 1:31 mark a free throw by the Tigers’ Burden made it 45-39. At the 1:14 mark Eller drained another three and it was 45-42. Brookville fouled statistically the worst free throw shooter for the Tigers, he was making only 47 percent of his charity shots.
However, Burden made the two free throws. Eller countered with a basket for Brookville and Burden made a lay-in to make it 49-44.
Then after a couple of missed inside shots, Loffing of the Tigers hit two free throws to make it 51-44 WLS, with 24.5 seconds left.
Brookville’s Willis was fouled and made two free throws at the 22.9 mark. Then Loffing again made two freebies at the 20.5 mark. It was 53-46.
Brookville’s Eller hit a three with 13.2 second left, Brookville got a steal and Dominique scored on a lay-up with 3.5 seconds left. He was fouled and then on the ensuing charity shot the ball bounced off the iron and the Tigers managed to tip the ball outside and then snare it and heave it down court to end the game.
In the end, a gallant effort came too little too late as Brookville made too many mistakes and turnovers. Brookville made only 38 percent of their shots making 19-of-50 including a poor 3-of-15 from behind the arch.
Burden had 18, Loffing 15, and Nease 12 for the Tigers.
Brookville scoring showed Eller with 31 points, the third time in the season he went over 30 markers in a game. Eller also had five rebounds and three steals.
Willis had 10 points and nine boards, Dominique six points and six rebounds, Tommy Dafler two points and four rebounds and Sammy Dafler scored two points and grabbed four rebounds.
The Blue Devils season ended on Northmont’s court again.
Strong Dixie effort comes up short
VANDALIA – Dixie was on the precipice of what could have been a major upset in the Division III sectional tournament against top-seeded Anna last Thursday at Vandalia-Butler High School.
The Hounds trailed by one-point heading into the second half and trailed by only four going into the final quarter.
However, the Rockets outscored Dixie 31-9 in the final frame for the win, 74-48.
Anna won a spot in the District finals with a victory on Saturday.
Riley Huelskamp had 25, Bart Bixler 17, and Kamren Stewart 14 for Anna in the game.
Dixie finished the season 1-22 but played much better as the season went along and came close to winning several times, including giving Anna fits for three periods of play.
The Hounds laid a foundation that can be built upon by younger players with lots of work and dedication.