BOWLING GREEN - Cade Kaple lined up and fired from beyond half court and launched a shot as the buzzer sounded that landed in the Wayne Trace student section.
It was a fitting end to the half for Buckeye Central as the Raiders tapped, touched and stole the ball from the Bucks 12 times in a 44-28 first half.
The 1-3-1 zone, then the 2-3 zone and then the Raiders seemingly being in the zone on offense all led to an 80-51 blowout of the Bucks in the Division IV regional semifinal at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Wayne Trace’s Jake Arend (25) and Corbin Linder grab a rebound from Buckeye Central's Sam Robertson Tuesday during the Division IV regional semifinal game at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green.
Buckeye Central's Grant Loy shoots between Wayne Trace’s Corbin Linder (left) and Devin Wenzlick Tuesday.
"They're a very good team," Buckeye Central coach Phil Loy said. "Wayne Trace, congrats to them. I thought they did a phenomenal job. The brothers shot the ball very well. They're nice players and they have a very nice team."
No. 7 Buckeye Central (23-3) finished with 20 turnovers, 18 of which came from steals by the Raiders (23-3). Those 18 steals led to 30 points for the Raiders.
"The 1-3-1 caused some problems with their length. The 1-3-1 is not something that we see at all. We see very little 1-3-1, especially when it's that good. That caused us some problems," Loy said.
The beneficiaries largely were the Linder brothers: Corbin and Ethan. The elder Corbin poured in 32 points, including six 3-pointers while the freshman finished with 30 points for the No. 10 Raiders.
"(The turnovers) got them going and once they got some easy baskets, you get into a comfort zone and the next thing you know you're knocking down 3s and everybody feels good," Loy said. "So it was tough."
Not only were the turnovers a problem, but the Raiders spent the bulk of their time plundering Austin Wurm and Kaple.
"I'm just really pleased with our defense the last few games. We had a tough start in our first two games and we challenged our kids to make sure that our defense has to start our offense because we hadn't been shooting it well," Wayne Trace coach Jim Linder said. "I thought these kids really turned it up."
Kaple finished with 21 points but an unstereotypical 10 turnovers. Wurm was held to 15 points. The rest of the team combined for 15 points.
"The length was the biggest thing," Kaple said of Wayne Trace's defense. "It was not being able to see over them and they tipped about every pass I tried to throw. Like coach said, we don't usually run into a 1-3-1, and we did and it definitely forced us into turnovers."
Coach Linder said his team thought it could force turnovers.
"I thought the Kaple kid is a nice guard and I didn't know if we could turn him. I thought we could turn (Scott) Heydinger but I didn't know about Kaple. We got him a couple times and that was maybe the difference. I think we got into their heads a little bit."
Buckeye Central led three minutes into the game, 7-3, before Wayne Trace went on a 14-0 scoring run to make it 17-7. Seth Ollis stopped the bleeding two and a half minutes later before Wayne Trace closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run.
Kaple opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to cut it back to 10, 22-12, before a 9-3 run by Wayne Trace, aided by three turnovers, made it 31-15 a little more than two minutes into the quarter. By halftime, the Raiders upped their margin to 44-28.
"When you have 12 turnovers that lead into probably 24 points (it's a problem). It's the turnovers out front that lead into easy baskets. What do you do?" Loy asked. "We talked about attacking the zone and tried to attack that, but with their length, it's difficult. It's not like you're attacking guys under six foot. These guys have long arms and that led into some easy transition baskets."
BC wasn't ready to concede. The Bucks opened the second half with a 10-2 run, using a dose of Wayne Trace's own medicine to do it: turnovers. Not only did BC score against Wayne Trace's 1-3-1 defense, it forced three turnovers.
Wurm's 3-pointer with 5:33 left in the third quarter made it 46-38. But three offensive possessions amounted to nothing with two more turnovers and a missed bucket.
"If we could have cut it down to four (or) two. I thought we missed some easy shots," Loy said. "If we could have gotten down to that, maybe the outcome could have been a little tighter. But maybe not."
The Raiders switched things up to a 2-3 zone and turned on the offensive jets again. By the end of the quarter, Ethan Linder put the final nail in with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner, making it 60-44.
"We made adjustments to our 1-3-1 and went to our 2-3. That really stifled them. They started to solve our 1-3-1 in the start of the third quarter," coach Linder said. "It threw them back for another five, six minutes. It was that kind of game. We would hold them off for a while, and in the meantime we'd keep scoring and it kind of got away from them."
The loss means the end of the career for three Bucks: Kaple, Sam Robertson and Stone Wurm. Loy said the three have been instrumental in bringing the program back to glory.
"I just want to say how proud I am of these guys for the season we've had and the goals we've reached," Loy said. "It's tough when it comes down to a game like this. I'm just very proud these three guys standing here tonight.
"We're going to miss these three. It's going to be hard to replace them," Loy said.
Kaple said the team accomplished three of its goals this year.
"We made goals at the beginning of the year and we met three of our goals for sure. It's unfortunate that we couldn't continue," Kaple said. "Our goals at the beginning of the year was an 18-win season. We finished the regular season 20-2. We were NCC champs outright which we haven't done in 30 years. And winning the district title was the last one. We accomplished all three of those."
Wayne Trace moves on to face Convoy Crestview in the regional final Friday at 7 p.m. The No. 1 Knights beat No. 5 Ottawa Hills in the nightcap, 49-26.