BY GREG FLINT
ATTICA, Ind. —
The Seeger boys’ basketball team took control in two quarters of their game at Attica to defeat the Ramblers 61-49. The Patriots got their offense going in the second period and their defense in the third to pull off the victory.
Both teams seemed in a hurry to score in the opening minutes of the game.
Kenny Little, on his way to a team high 18 points, scored the first five for Attica while Seeger used a combination of Nathan DeVillez, Zach Stitt and Seth Lynch to lead 7-5 midway through the quarter.
The Ramblers would only get one more basket in the period, a jumper by Brady Sheridan, while the Patriots would score six more to lead 13-7 at the end of the quarter.
Despite a pair of treys dished up by Jordan Capps and Austin Smyth for Attica, it was Seeger who began to pull away on the scoreboard as the second quarter progressed. The Patriots were able to get the ball inside and took advantage either with a lay-up or by dishing the ball to a cutter.
Rambler head coach Chuck Hutchins said it was because his team struggled to play post defense.
“We don’t have a big inside presence so we defend it from the perimeter,” he explained. “We try to make them work to get the ball inside, but tonight we didn’t pressure their perimeter people well enough to deny that pass.”
Seeger got the lead up to seven before seeing it trimmed to four at the intermission. Attica could have made it a much tighter game at that point, perhaps even had the lead, had they been able to make free throws.
The Ramblers were only four of 12 from the line in the first half, yet only trailed 29-25. With even a 67 percent shooting percentage (8 of 12), they would have been tied.
Those misses on what would have been free points came back to haunt the Ramblers in the third quarter.
Keetin Arnold hit a basket for the Ramblers at the 6:37 mark of the third quarter making the score 31-27, but those would be all the points his team would score for the next six minutes.
Kenny Little broke the drought with a trey at the 37-second mark, but in the interim, the Patriots had scored a dozen to lead 43-30. Up thirteen after three quarters, they seemingly had put the game out of reach.
“We didn’t change anything,” said Patriot head coach John Collins about his third quarter defense. “We just buckled down and worked hard at not giving up drives inside like earlier. Our guys take pride in their defense, so all they did was play harder.”
Even though they were behind by double digits, Attica would not give up and came out firing as the fourth quarter started. Smyth opened the period with a trey and Little followed with a fast break that cut the margin to eight at 43-35.
Then in one big play, everything changed. Attica looked to be headed for another basket but DeVillez came up with the ball and drove to his basket for an “and-one”.
He made the ensuing free throw, so instead of Attica likely cutting the margin to six, Seeger was now up eleven – a crucial five-point swing that both coaches agreed was a key play in the game.
From there on, the teams traded points with Attica never really getting close again and the final margin of twelve was thanks to Seeger hitting free throws late in the game when the Ramblers had no other way than fouling to try to make a comeback.
When the two teams faced each other in the holiday tournament, the Ramblers came out on top by two. Part of the difference, although Hutchins would not use it as an excuse, was that he was without his top two scorers, Carson Davis and Bryce Cooper — who usually combine for about 25 points per game.
“They’re slashers while their replacements are more guys who stand and shoot,” said Hutchins. “But our guys like J R Dunwell and Lance [Whorrall] came in and stepped up the way we’d hoped they would.”
For Collins, the game was all about getting back on track.
“We’d lost a couple of games so this was a good win for us,” he said. “We got back to doing what we should be doing.”