G-RF speeds into title game
DANVILLE — It was a basketball game of contrasting styles. Georgetown-Ridge Farm wanted to use its speed and quickness in Wednesday's semifinal game of the 93rd Vermilion County boys' tournament.
The other school seeking a berth in Saturday's championship game, Oakwood, preferred to rely on its inside strength and muscle.
Score one for the quick guys.
The Buffaloes ran away from the Comets 67-42 in a semifinal at Palmer Arena and advanced to a game where they will face the only school they have lost to in 18 games.
G-RF coach Adam Latoz acknowledged that at times it appears the Buffaloes are adept at running, but not running an offense.
"I like to take a good shot," he said, "but the way we push the ball, you have to take some bad shots from them."
In a game where the team hit exactly half of its shots (29 of 58), there weren't many questionable attempts.
Andy Cravens jump-started the Buffaloes in the first period, scoring eight of the team's first 10 points, including the basket that broke the final tie and sent G-RF ahead, 10-8.
"He can knock down the shots," Latoz said.
After the Buffaloes raced into an 18-8 lead after the first quarter, Skyler Slade rallied the Comets. He hit 13 of his team-high 17 points from the inside and, in the final minute of the half, Oakwood was within 28-25.
The deficit grew to eight at intermission as Ryan Dieu (3 of 3 from three-point range) and Cravens scored.
"If you get Oakwood in a halfcourt game, they'll beat you by pounding it inside," Latoz said. "We thought on this bigger (college-length) floor, we could wear them down."
After a 17-point second quarter, Oakwood managed 17 more points thereafter as second-seeded G-RF built leads as large as 27 points.
Dieu led the balanced attack with 17 points. Matthew Hay had 15, Cravens 14 and Korie Vire 12, all in the second half.
Slade had a double-double, also pulling down 11 rebounds. Teammate Cameron Lee had a game-high 13 boards to go with nine points.
Now comes the rematch the Buffaloes have been awaiting since suffering a post-Christmas loss to Bismarck-Henning on the Blue Devils' court.
"Bismarck is a tough team to prepare for, but now we have 2 1/2 days to prepare for them," Latoz said.
Since Georgetown and Ridge Farm consolidated three decades ago, the school's only county championship occurred in 1988.
Sixth-seeded Oakwood will take on Armstrong-Potomac — a school it co-ops with in some sports — in Saturday's third-place game.
Bismarck-Henning 50, Armstrong-Potomac 18. The Blue Devils' defense set the tone, allowing three points during the opening 12 1/2 minutes en route to a berth in Saturday's championship game.
In two tournament games, B-H (17-2) has allowed 30 points.
"I thought we played a better defensive game than the other night," B-H coach Deon Mennenga said. "Mainly, it was the intensity. I ask, 'Are we contesting every shot?' We want to know that in a tough game we can count on the guys to give it everything they've got."
The top-seeded Blue Devils scored 17 of the first 20 points and secured a running clock in the fourth period, extending their lead to 45-14 on Austin Toler's layup with 5:50 to play.
"Our defense got them to hurrying shots, and we didn't allow many shots in the paint," Mennenga said.
Tanner Ribbe led B-H with 14 points. He was the game's only double-figure scorer. Five teammates had at least five points, including Stephen Krout (eight), who led all rebounders with 11.
B-H is seeking its first tournament title this season. It's a step Mennenga would like the team to make prior to the postseason.
"You need to experience that environment, that one-and-done atmosphere, so that when it counts you know how to handle it," he said.
D.J. Davis, whose three-pointer accounted for the only A-P points in the opening 12:35, led the fifth-seeded Trojans (6-11) with five points. Teammate Shay Fitzsimmons had seven rebounds.
B-H is seeking its fourth county crown and third in the past six years. The Blue Devils were triumphant back-to-back in 2007 and '08 and also won in 1992.