Saturday night in a seemingly routine non-conference road game, 66-47.
In winning, the undefeated and third-ranked D-III team in the state extended
its winning streak to 13 games. The outcome was never in doubt.
The outcome was never in doubt.
The Greyhounds played without one of their best players, senior guard Ethan Blankenship, who came down with a case of the flu just before game time.
As expected, the first half was played a pace that was too fast for Newton (3-10, 3-4 CCC) to function effectively. Unexpectedly, it was also played at a pace that was too fast for Dixie to function effectively.
You’d have to go to the airport to see more travelers than there were on display in P-Hill on this night.
A last second fifty-five foot jumper by Kale Booher kept the first quarter score close. In the second stanza the Greyhounds were able to build a small lead and they nursed it until halftime: Dixie 28, Newton 21.
Newton played an aggressive man-to-man defense the whole game, picking up ball-handlers at mid court most of the time. Dixie played a 2-1-2 match-up zone for the first half, but changed to a man-to-man at the start of the decisive third quarter.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Greyhound head coach Joe Miller said while waiting for the bus after the game. “I didn’t think that we came out with the type of intensity that we have been coming out with (in previous games). We knew that they were hitting the threes and (Jason) Powell is always dangerous so we decided to man them up (in the second half).”
The intense man-to-man pressure didn’t generate any more turnovers per se because the Indians were already turning over the ball at an alarming rate; but it did allow for better perimeter defense and more opportunistic scoring/finishing by the Greyhounds.
That proved to be the difference in this game. The final: Dixie 66, Newton 47.
The Greyhounds aren’t too proud to clean windows and they proved it by winning the rebounding wars easily, 24-14. In so doing, they also trashed the notion that you cannot rebound out of a zone defense. Of course, it also helps to be a lot bigger than the other team.
“My best interior defender (Trevor Lavy) is 6-foot-1,” Newton head coach Neal Hans pointed out. “That isn’t very big. I realize that in their league they aren’t very big either, but still that isn’t very big. He’s a good defender and tries really hard, but he is what he is. On top of that we aren’t very patient. Dixie did a nice job of running their offense. They made us work defensively. In the end they just wore us down.
“Dixie shoots the ball real, real well. They present teams like ours with some tough defensive match ups. They have four quick kids and the big guy inside is pretty good, too. There is no shame in losing to the Greyhounds.”
Both teams shot the ball well. The Greyhounds made 25 of 46 from the field (10-17 from the line). Newton was 17 of 35 from the floor (6-12 from the line).
Powell led Newton with 18 points (2 rebounds, 1 assist). Unflappable point guard, Booher (the little brother of former Indian standout and All-Ohio guard Kyler Booher), joined him in double figures (11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists). Lavy (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Lyle Hussong (5 points) also made significant contributions.
Jared Moore was the leading scorer for the Greyhounds with 18 points (6 rebounds, 3 assists). Nick Miller (3 assists) and Matt Risner (6 rebounds, 1 assist) each added 14. Nick Worley (9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist), Cody Bates (6 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists), and Ryan Sinnamon (4 points) also scored for Dixie.
“We played well for a while, given the circumstances,” Hans said, gesturing with his hands as if they were helping him to make his point. “Our turnovers were the result of their quickness. I knew that would give us problems because we aren’t real quick ourselves. We end up playing at their speed and we make some quick/bad decisions and that becomes another problem.
“I have a couple of kids that are pretty good at helping on defense, and they got their hands on the ball and did some good things. Then we get in a hurry, make bad decisions, and it’s over. It’s like I told my kids. They’re a nice team. They are undefeated for a reason.”
Dixie’s Cody Bates isn’t the type of player that makes headlines, but he is the type of player that wins basketball games by playing great defense and filling up the agate print at the bottom of stat sheets.
“I thought we played hard,” he said after the game. “We really hustled, but I thought it really looked like we had played a game the night before. We were sloppy in the first half but we picked it up in the second like we always do. After all, we are a second half kind of team.”
Miller doesn’t need a beat writer to tell him that he has something good going on. He already knows and he is happy to tell you why.
“Our success all year has been due to playing team ball,” the coach said. “Last night, we pretty much had five guys in double figures against Preble Shawnee. It’s been four or five guys every night. That’s balance, but we need to be balanced because we’re probably the smallest team in our league. Our guards play good defense and they rebound the ball as well and that helps.
“Our league is very tough this year. Carlisle, Madison, Lemon-Monroe (next Thursday’s scheduled opponent featuring high scoring senior Tyler Osterman)—there’s not a bad team in our conference (SWBL-Buckeye). We’ll need that balance in the next few games.
“Tonight we had a ton of turnovers,” Miller grudgingly admitted. “I don’t know how many but I’ll tell you it wasn’t like us. We only average 3 or 4 a game. Friday night we only had 2. Tonight we had more than I care to even think about. That’s not how we play basketball. We played well in the third quarter but the rest of the night we didn’t.
“Nick (Miller) is a senior this year and his leadership has been outstanding. I think Jered (Moore) is the best point guard in the league. (Matt) Risner has been playing really well and so has (Cody)Bates. Cody can guard anybody because that is what he does. He’s more than happy to be the one to do it. We have lots of guys that can score.”
Booher was a real bright spot for the Indians. He handled the ball securely on a night when few others could make the same claim, and he has a sweet stroke to boot. It would be an interesting exercise to find out what the opposing point guard thought of him.
“He is fast,” Jared Moore offered obligingly. “He can shoot and he does a lot of good things (for Newton). I knew I had to do a great job on him tonight.”
The 6-foot-2 Dixie senior is arguably the best point guard in the SWBL-Buckeye and he’s the guy you would want to ask.
“I don’t think he thought that he could take me off the dribble so he tried to post me up. Usually if they are posting me up (with guards) I can just sort of kick it back, but tonight everyone else was hitting threes (6) instead. That was the problem with our defense in the first half, and that’s why we switched to man-to-man.
“They were hitting too many threes. Something had to be done.”