By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
Just two days after their heartbreaking loss in New Washington, Willard came out and took care of unfinished business Saturday night at home against Port Clinton.
Even if was difficult for the ‘unfinished’ to get started.
Despite a rocky start that saw the visiting Redskins jump out to a 17-8 lead after one, Willard turned up their defensive intensity and locked down Port Clinton to the tune of just 23 points over the final three quarters to earn their second win of the season, 50-40, at the Robert L. Haas Gymnasium.
Nick Cofer and Ethan Daub each tossed in a game-high 16 points and combined for 18 rebounds (10 by Daub) and five steals to help guide the Flashes (2-10), who snapped a five-game losing skid for the second time this season with a non-league victory. It also marked Willard’s first win at home this season.
The Redskins (1-11), playing without injured scoring leader, Joey Brenner, came out of the gates ready to roll, landing 5-of-9 shots from the field and draining all six of their free throw attempts in building their nine-point advantage after one.
But from there, Willard circled the wagons defensively, limiting Port Clinton to just 6-of-29 shooting from the field over the final 24 minutes, including an 0-for-11 third period in which the Flashes outscored the Redskins, 11-2, to claim a 31-27 advantage.
“We solidified how we were playing on the defensive end,” said Willard Head Coach Chris Long. “I thought we were fouling too much. We need to be able to defend without fouling people all the time. That got us in trouble against Buckeye Central the other night.”
The fouls that plagued Willard early on turned out to aid their cause down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Having been outscored, 9-2, at the stripe in the first half, and missing six of their first nine through three, the Flashes buried 17-of-22 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The last 15 WHS points came from the charity stripe, beginning with a pair from Jerett Sowers (who tallied eight points) with 4:28 to go. Brevon Polachek scored all seven of his points from the line.
“We wanted to work on pounding them in the paint and put pressure on their defense, to get a chance to draw some fouls,” said Long. “We didn’t do enough of that, especially in the first half.
“This is great after losing the way we did the other night,” he added. “The way we started, it looked like things might go the same way tonight. The first three-and-a-half minutes we already had like four fouls. This win was a big boost and showed a lot of resolve from our kids.”
Dean Colston hit 5-of-6 shots from the field and foul line for 15 points to pace the Redskins.
So. Cent. 80, Crestview 49:
The Trojans charged to a 45-17 halftime lead and cruised from there, downing Crestview by 31 in Firelands Conference action.
Michael Ponchel led the way with 19 points, while Ben Lamoreaux added 15 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Simon Blair and Aaron Lamoreaux tacked on 14 points apiece for SCHS.
So. Cent. Girls 49, Hillsdale 22:
The Lady Trojans tallied nearly as many steals (31) as they allowed shots (35), as they bottled up Hillsdale and rolled to their first win of the season.
Ally Burton scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and piled up seven steals, while Holly Hale and Maddie Albert added seven points apiece in the win.
WMS 7th Grade Girls:
Willard defeated Bellevue, 31-30, to avenge and a loss from the first game of the season. Solid fourth quarter defense sparked a come-from-behind effort.
WMS 8th Grade Girls:
The Lady Flashes fell, 53-50, to an undefeated Bellevue squad. Willard nearly pulled off the upset as the game came down to the final quarter of play. WMS was a force defensively and out-rebounded the Lady Red.