Boys Basketball: Late run lifts Tecumseh past Shawnee

Cutline: Tecumseh High School junior Collin O'Connor drives past Shawnee sophomore Zane Mercer during their game on Friday night in Springfield. O'Connor had 16 points as the Arrows won 55-49. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

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Cutline: Tecumseh High School junior Collin O'Connor drives past Shawnee sophomore Zane Mercer during their game on Friday night in Springfield. O'Connor had 16 points as the Arrows won 55-49. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

SPRINGFIELD — The Tecumseh High School boys basketball team finally earned the signature victory it had been seeking all season.

Trailing by four points midway through the fourth quarter, the Arrows outscored Shawnee 10-2 in the final four minutes, beating the Braves 55-49 in a Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division game on Friday night in Springfield.

“All of our games have been close for the most part,” said Arrows coach Kyle Leathley. “We had guys step up and make some plays there at the end. We had guys make some free throws and grab some rebounds. We were overdue for that win. The last 7-8 games we’ve played pretty well. You win a couple close ones and start to get your confidence up. It feels good.”

It was Tecumseh’s first victory over their Clark County rivals since January of 2017. Shawnee had won each of the past nine meetings.

Tecumseh junior Collin O’Connor scored a game-high 16 points, junior Carson Harrod-Allen had 13 points and junior Matt Linger added 12 as the Arrows improved to 11-6 and 4-3 in the Kenton Trail Division. It was Tecumseh’s fifth straight victory and eighth win in their last nine games.

Braves junior R.J. Griffin scored 13 points and junior Zion Crowe and sophomore Darian Dixon each had 11 points as Shawnee fell to 9-6 and 4-2 in the Kenton Trail Division.

“Defensively, we weren’t nearly as good (in the second half),” said Shawnee coach Chris McGuire. “We gave up some offensive rebounds in some key spots. Those are all things we pride ourselves on, being able to guard and get rebounds, and I didn’t think we did it in the second half well enough to win the game.”

Shawnee led 21-17 at the half and took a 37-33 lead on a 3-pointer by sophomore Zane Mercer as time expired at the end of the third quarter.

The Braves led by four after two made free throws by Dixon made it 45-41 with 4:43 remaining, but a bucket by O’Connor and a steal and layup by Tecumseh senior Braden Berner tied the score.

Another basket by O’Connor, a putback by Harrod-Allen and two made free throws by Linger gave the Arrows a lead they would never relinquish at 51-45.

Tecumseh was dominant on the offensive boards, scoring several easy bucks on putbacks throughout the game.

“We talk about defensive rebounding and getting back,” Leathley said. “Transition defense is important to us, but we’ve been the best offensive rebounding team we’ve had at Tecumseh for a while. It’s the kids we have. They just have a mentality to go get it. Those guys just hustle after the ball. We’ve got kids who are physical and play hard and I think that showed tonight.”

Griffin hit two free throws with about 50 seconds remaining, but the Braves wouldn’t get any closer. The Arrows held Shawnee to just three field goals in the fourth quarter. The Braves struggled to make 3-pointers against Tecumseh’s 2-3 zone.

“It makes it tough when you’re struggling to hit perimeter shots, they put a lot of focus inside and pack it in a little bit,” McGuire said. “We especially struggled in the first half, but you’ve got to make open shots. We’ve got to finish some shots around the rim, but for me it came down to the defensive end and we just didn’t get it done.”

The Braves are now two games back in the CBC Kenton Trail Division with four games to play. They’ll now need some help to win the title, but McGuire’s focus will be on getting his team to play more consistently on defense down the stretch.

“I’ve got to get these guys to understand that we’ve got to have that defensive grit and grind to be able to get stops when you’ve got to win with your defense,” McGuire said. “If we can get there, we’ll be alright. We’ve shown some glimpses of it.”

The Arrows host first-place Jonathan Alder (12-4, 7-0 Kenton Trail) on Tuesday night in New Carlisle. In their previous meeting on Dec. 28, Tecumseh led by five points twice in the fourth quarter, but fell 41-39. The Arrows hope their experience in close games over the last few weeks will help in their upcoming matchup.

“This was a good step tonight,” Leathley said.

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