LEWISBURG – The Arcanum Trojans showed no mercy to host Tri-County North on the Panthers’ senior night.
The two teams played fairly evenly in the first half. But in the second half a decent lead turned into a rout as the Arcanum defense grew stronger, keeping North from scoring, and on offense the Trojan shooters found their range, and the shots kept dropping for the visitors. North changed up defenses and made lineup changes, but it was to no avail as Arcanum grew its lead to double digits and had a happy drive home with a 68-52 win.
Tri-County North stayed on the heels of Arcanum in the first half. North’s Zach Edgin scored all of his 14 points in the first half and was a big factor in keeping the Panthers close. But in the second half the Trojan defense adjusted and held him scoreless.
Also throughout the game the defense converted a lot of Panther turnovers into points. The Trojans easily scored 12-14 points off of layups from steals alone.
Arcanum did a good job of driving to the basket in the first quarter and half. Tri-County North had finally seen enough and went to a zone defense to zip up the inside. Arcanum then began to play some string music from outside – sinking several shots from the perimeter.
It seemed like whatever Tri-County North tried to do, Arcanum was able to find an answer. North did make an attempt in the fourth quarter at a comeback with a trapping defense, but again Arcanum was able to figure it out and score at will.
It was 29-37 at halftime. But the lead grew to double digits by the end of the third quarter, 56-41, as Arcanum seemed to get stronger as the game went on.
The Trojans were able to stretch out their offensive possessions in the last quarter to eat up the clock and empty the bench in the waning minutes to give everyone some time on the court.
“We struggled to defend in the first quarter,” Arcanum boys basketball coach Marcus Bixler said. “I was not pleased with what we were doing. But I talked to them, and they responded. From that point on all they shots that North took were contested. North is an athletic group, and they have kids that can score. Offensively we were able to spread them out and attack the rim. We have been unselfish with the ball the last three, four games, and when we do that our offense comes alive – and that was the case tonight.”
Carter Gray was the leading scorer on the night with 19 points.
“He is the recipient of our inside out game,” Bixler said. “We drive the basket and get the defense drawn in then we can kick it out, and he can hit those shots. He is a good shooter and is getting better with the rest of his game.”
Arcanum will begin the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament against National Trail on Feb. 25 at Vandalia-Butler. It will be the second time that these two teams will meet.
“We played them early in the season, and in our first six, seven games we could not guard a cardboard box,” Bixler said. “Our defense has improved, and we have to prove ourselves in this game. I have known Mike Harrelson for a long time – and he is going to know what we are doing, and we are going to know what he is doing. So there won’t be many surprises. Our defense will have to stop (Dalton) Mason; he had 16 on us in the first half. They have good guards that we will be ready for. It should be a good matchup.”