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Best ‘D’ effort powers Eagles over SC

Best ‘D’ effort powers Eagles over SC
Best ‘D’ effort powers Eagles over SC
Lanesville's Jacob Wernert comes away with a rebound against South Central during semi-final action. Photo by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor

Described as the ‘best defense we’ve played all year’ by junior Connor Nolot, Lanesville was able to avenge an early season loss to rival South Central to earn a 55-35 victory Friday in the Class 1A Borden Sectional semi-final.
The Harrison County foes tied at the top of the Southern Athletic Conference regular season standings, with the Rebels winning the first meeting 46-41. This time around, Lanesville put together a more complete effort on both ends of the court.
South Central’s zone defense gave Lanesville fits in January, but Lanesville used crisper ball movement to generate a balanced scoring attack.
‘If you can pass against that zone, it gives you a lot more opportunities to score,’ Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said. ‘Back to our game earlier, we didn’t pass very well. I thought we handled the pressure a lot better this time. We felt like if we could get the ball to the middle of the floor, then we could get some things going. Credit our kids for executing.’
Tied at 9-all after one quarter, Lanesville scored the first five points of the second with a triple off the bench from Griffen Reynolds along with a Mason Miller drive. South Central countered with a 3-point play by Lucas Stewart, but the Eagles closed the half on an 11-4 run to lead 25-16. Nolot picked up five points while additional points came from Jordan Wernert, Tripp Dillion and Mason Miller. Mason distributed five assists for the night.
‘It’s a coach’s nightmare in one of these games,’ South Central coach Greg Robinson said. ‘I don’t think we played bad defensively, but the little things ” the loose balls and rebounding ” Lanesville just worked hard. I know our kids played hard, but Lanesville had a little bit more of a bounce in their step. It wears on you when you keep missing shots.’
Nolot went on to lead Lanesville with a near double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds.
‘The baskets early helped us out,’ coach Miller said. ‘Connor shot really well. When he is going well, it’s looks effortless. He also got in there and really rebounded the ball.’
‘On offense, we wanted to solve that 1-3-1 (defense), which (South Central) does so well,’ Nolot said. ‘I was shooting when I was open and a few times when they were contested. I was short on a few, but I had to keep shooting.’
It was a war of wills on the boards for much of the night. Dillion had seven rebounds for the Eagles to go with 14 points. Five were grabbed by Wernert. South Central’s Chase Schoen had nine points and eight boards.
‘It’s like any other game; if you can control the boards, you can control the game,’ Miller said. ‘I felt we had control of the boards, which allowed us to play with a lead. This year, we haven’t played with a lead a lot. If we could play with a lead, I thought moving into the fourth quarter we would be hard to guard.’
On the offensive end for South Central, the Rebels could never find a groove. A transition field goal by the Rebels’ Dylan Patterson cut Lanesville’s lead to five, 27-22, in the third. From then on, a Nolot trey made sure South Central never got closer.
‘We recognized shooters on defense, so we knew who to help on to focus on taking away drives,’ Reynolds said. ‘We had to box out because we know they can all jump and are athletic. It was about keeping them off the boards. The first game (versus South Central), they had a lot of offensive rebounds.’
Coming off the bench, Reynolds provided a lift. He said his focus is rebounding and defending. He also was able to contribute a pair of 3-pointers.
‘South is a tough team to match-up with,’ Mikel Miller said. ‘Our kids played really hard tonight.’
It was a rowdy crowd on both side of the Borden gymnasium, which made for an intense setting.
‘I could really feel the atmosphere tonight,’ Nolot said. ‘This was an awesome win.’
Stewart paced South Central in scoring with 12 points.
‘I thought they really surrounded Chase (Schoen) and kept him from getting the ball,’ Robinson said. ‘Lucas wasn’t able to get going. We needed some guys to hit some shots, and they just didn’t go in.’
The memorable South Central season ends with a 16-9 record, the Rebels’ best mark since winning 18 in 2002-03. The Rebels entered the game winning nine of their last 10.
‘It’s hard to look back at it right now with this group,’ Robinson said. ‘I enjoyed coaching this group of kids. They were a tight-knit team. You hate to see those type of seasons come to an end. I know when they walk out of here it’s going to hurt, but they will remember what they did this year. They were able to accomplish a lot and what they brought our program.’
The Rebels will graduate six seniors: Harvey Basham, Jacob Daugherty, Bryce Lewis, Brandon Summers, Will Weber and Schoen.
‘You look out there and our fans were great,’ Robinson said. ‘The turnout was great. I hope they come back next year because I think we’ll be OK. It was good to see all the support from the community. That was really positive. It was a great year for us, but it didn’t end the way we wanted it to end.’

South Central 9 7 9 10 – 35
Lanesville 9 16 9 21 – 55
South Central (16-9) – Lucas Stewart 12, Chase Schoen 9, Dylan Patterson 6, Brandon Summers 5, Wesley Wilson 3.
Lanesville (13-11) – Connor Nolot 18, Tripp Dillion 14, Mason Miller 8, Griffen Reynolds 8, Kevin DeSpain 5, Jacob Wernert 2.
3-point goals ‘ South Central 1 (Stewart); Lanesville 5 (Nolot 3, Reynolds 2).