Tigers outscore Southeastern 18-2 in game’s final 10 minutes to earn 39-32 win.
KETTERING — Southeastern did virtually whatever it wanted on offense to its first four tournament opponents. But the Trojans ran into Jackson Center and Southwest Div. IV player of the year Drew Sosby on Tuesday and couldn’t keep their hot shooting going.
Jackson Center shut down Southeastern in the final 10 minutes with an 18-2 run to earn a 39-32 win in a regional semifinal game at Trent Arena.
The Tigers contained Southeastern leading scorer Jake Bertemes all night. But they struggled for three quarters to stop the rest of Southeastern’s players.
Once Jackson Center figured out the Trojans’ offense late in the third, they were on their way to victory.
“We buckled down defensively,” Jackson Center head coach Scott Elchert said. “Their motion offense is pretty hard to guard. So the more reps we got against it, the more we got accustomed to it.”
Southeastern led 30-21 midway through the third after starting the quarter on a 7-3 run. Jackson Center scored the final nine points of the quarter. After the Trojans scored the opening basket of the fourth, they never made another shot.
“We just got a little stagnant, probably a little bit of nerves and pressure of the game,” Southeastern head coach Brian Hecker said. “We stopped moving a little bit. We tried to run some stuff to get some easy buckets and they defended it really well. Shots didn’t fall tonight, but a ton of credit to them. We didn’t get a ton of easy shots or much in transition.”
Sosby, who scored 14 points on Tuesday, guarded Bertemes through the entire game. Bertemes averaged 18.5 points per game in regular season but struggled to find shots against Sosby. Bertemes scored a season-low four points.
“We talked prior to coming into the game,” Elchert said. “I said, ‘Drew, this is the best player you’ve had to guard for 32 minutes,’ and he’s guarded some good ones. So the fact that he held Bertemes for 32 minutes speaks volumes…
“I can’t imagine all the energy he had to burn all night guarding Bertemes for 32 minutes because of how fast he moves.”
Bertemes, who scored 33 points in a district final win over Fort Loramie, was unable to penetrate much against Jackson Center and couldn’t find good looks outside. He made 2 of 12 shot attempts in the game.
“We knew coming in that he’s a heck of a player,” Sosby said of Bertemes. “It was a five-man group effort to get that job done against (Southeastern). I take a lot of pride in being able to guard (Bertemes), it’s a challenge because he’s such a great player.”
Sosby, a senior, sparked Jackson Center’s comeback on offense. He scored three foul shots and a three-pointer in the last two minutes of the third. Cousin Bryce Sosby hit a three in the last minute of the quarter to tie the game at 30-30.
Jackson Center took the lead at 33-32 when Brady Wildermuth hit a basket with 1:50 left in the fourth. Southeastern ate a minute off the clock before Colton Spears put up a mid-range shot. The shot bounced off the rim, and Southeastern fouled while fighting for the rebound.
Jackson Center worked the ball back down to its end of the court and drained the clock to 29 seconds before Southeastern picked up its seventh foul of the quarter. Sosby hit the first free throw and missed the second. After the miss, the ball went out-of-bounds off a Trojan player. Southeastern fouled Wildermuth on the inbounds pass, and he made both foul shot attempts to give Jackson Center a 36-32 lead.
Southeastern missed its next shot and was forced to foul Sosby after he got the rebound. Sosby made two free throws with 14 seconds left to essentially clinch the win.
Wildermuth led Jackson Center with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Jackson Center (23-4) advances to play Yellow Springs in a Division IV regional final on Friday at Trent Arena. The Bulldogs ran by Lima Perry in the second half to a 61-43 win in Tuesday’s second regional semifinal.
“We’re obviously happy to be back, but we know we’ve got two days to get ready for (Yellow Springs),” Elchert said. “… We’ll have our work cut out for us on Friday night.”
Trevor King and Andrew Lyons scored seven points each in the first half to help Southeastern build a 23-18 lead. Jackson Center scored the first three points of the game, but the Trojans finished the first quarter on a 12-3 run that was capped by a King three-pointer at the buzzer.
Lyons led the Trojans with nine points, while King and Spears scored seven each. Southeastern shot 11-of-34 (32.3 percent) from the field and outrebounded Jackson Center 24-19.
Southeastern finishes with a 23-4 record. The Trojans will lose three seniors to graduation, including two starters in Bertemes and Lucas South. But they’ll return several of their top scorers. Junior forward Andrew Lyons, who averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game, looks to anchor the team next season.
“Losing guys like Jake, Lucas South and Jordan Greene is going to be tough,” Hecker said. “We talked a little bit (in the locker room) about what they’ve brought not just this year but the last four years to the program… Right now, it’s mainly just appreciating what the seniors have done in their four years and just enjoying the run that we’ve been on this season.”