Braves ready for 14-6 Peru in tonightâ€™s semis
FULLENKAMP READY â€” Bellmont's Forrest Fullenkamp looks to pass the ball Tuesday in the Bellmont Sectional. Fullenkamp battled his way back from knee surgery in September to claim his starting spot on the squad, which takes on Peru in the 7:30 p.m. semi-final tonight. (Deb Shannon Photo)
Though everyone involved has known about the conflict since Saturday, it was announced late Thursday afternoon that if Bishop Luers wins its game tonight with Adams Central in the semi-final round of the South Adams Boys 2A Basketball Sectional Tournament, then the championship game will be moved from Saturday to Monday because of the Luers' girls involvement in the Class 1A Girls State Basketball finals set for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Saturday.
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Game time would remain the same, 7:30 p.m.
Obviously, Adams Central, 13-7 and having its finest season in many years, would like to make that problem go away with a win in the 6 p.m. game tonight. Luers, ranked fifth and the SAC champion in Fort Wayne, is favored, as is Bluffton in the second game tonight as the 14-6 Tigers take on the 2-18 Woodlan Warriors.
"It's sectional. We're going to take Woodlan very seriously," stated veteran Bluffton coach Kevin Leising after his Tigers successfully salted away their win over South Adams Tuesday night (50-31) with a seven-minute stall.
The Tigers took the air out of the ball right at the start of the fourth period with a 39-29 lead. Leising's Tigers have been known to go to the stall-out with much less of a lead.
"For the first 45 seconds, they just stood there. We have a 10-point lead, so that's fine with us," noted Leising.
The Tigers wanted the Starfires to get out of their 2-3 zone as they dared the Tigers to shoot from the outside. Bluffton hardly shot at all from the outside on a night when it hit 19 of 40 shots from the field. Even when Bluffton charged and tried traps on the ballhandlers, Bluffton handled the pressure deftly, committing only two turnovers in the entire period.
Bluffton and Bishop Luers have had some great battles in recent years, with Luers coming out on top. Two years ago, Luers won the 2A state title after surviving a Bluffton challenge. This particular Bluffton team, co-champions in the ACAC with Leo, but beaten by Adams Central in the ACAC Tourney, is not as strong a team as those from the last four years.
Of course, Luers has to get past a fired-up Adams Central team, which has strong underclassman such as junior Maverick Baumer and sophomore Dalton Combs to lead the squad.
At Bellmont, the host Braves salvaged a tough season, scoring a 59-57 overtime win over Maconaquah (14-7) in the opening game, setting up tonight's 7:30 p.m. meeting with Peru, 14-5. In the first game, 10-11 Wayne, winners of four of its last five games, will take on 14-6 Norwell. The Knights won a previous 66-54 decision over Wayne, but that was back on Dec. 21.
Wayne has won four out of its last five games to end the season for first year coach Aaron Rehrer, who took over this season for John Leitz, a former Bellmont standout who played for Kevin Leising when he coach the Braves.
The Braves, who play in the tough NHC, will not be surprised by anything that the Tigers try to do tonight. The Braves recently played three strong quarters in a losing cause against No. 8 Concordia. Slow starts have cost Bellmont in several contests this year, but Bellmont coach Larry Patterson has vowed that his club will come out ready for Peru tonight.
The last sectional championship came in 2005 for Bellmont as the squad advanced to the regional championship game before falling to Wawasee.