“The more this group plays together, the better they’re going to be,” said Shawnee coach Chris McGuire. “We just haven’t had a lot of time together.”
Shawnee sophomore Zion Crowe scored 19 points, while senior Jamon Miller scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Braves junior Patrick Fultz added 10 points as Shawnee improved to 2-0 and 2-0 in the division.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” McGuire said. “Defense is going to dictate us like it has every year. I felt like defensively we were much better, didn’t give up as many open shots and slowed them down in transition a little bit more.”
Tecumseh sophomore Collin O’Connor scored 19 points and junior Evan Parker added 10 points for the Arrows (2-3, 1-1).
“We just didn’t make enough plays in the second half,” said Tecumseh coach Roger Culbertson. “We didn’t play good enough defense. You have to give them credit. They played hard and made shots. You have to beat Shawnee because they’re not going to be themselves. We obviously didn’t do that in the second half.”
The Braves led 16-11 in the first quarter, but a 12-3 run by the Arrows gave them a 23-19 lead early in the second quarter. They led 30-25 at the half.
Shawnee cranked up its defensive intensity in the third quarter, using an 8-0 run, including a dunk by Crowe, to jump out to a 33-30 lead.
The Arrows reclaimed the lead at 44-43 with about seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on back-to-back layups by O’Connor.
From that point forward, Shawnee controlled the game. They went on a 15-2 run, capped by back-to-back layups by Miller in transition, to take a 58-46 lead with 2:48 remaining.
“He’s able to finish, he’s quick and it suits him with his athleticism,” McGuire said. “We feel like we’ve got that spurtability a little bit where we can get a couple steals, get something easy and put some more pressure on you. I hope we’ll continue to buy into the defensive stuff. We’ve got to let our defense help generate the offense, but we’re going to be driven by our defense like we have for years.”
The Arrows will now face three tough opponents in the next seven days — Springboro, Jonathan Alder and Carroll.
“Our effort’s gotta be better for 32 minutes,” Culbertson said. “In the first half, defensively, I thought we played decent and competed. In the second half, we’ve got to come through and figure out ways to believe. When that four-point lead happened, some of our kids lost belief a little bit.”
Shawnee hit 8-of-12 free throws to seal the game in the fourth quarter. The Braves travel to London on Friday night.
“We knew it was going to be a grind out game,” McGuire said. “For us to be able to pull away at the end is a testament to these guys. They’re getting better together and trusting what we want to do defensively.”