BOWLING GREEN - Defending state champion Holgate was dethroned by Tiffin Calvert, and Continental won Putnam County League bragging rights last night in the boys Division IV regional basketball semifinals at Anderson Arena.
Calvert (20-4), which was eliminated by Holgate in last year's regional semis here, never trailed this time in taking a 33-26 victory over the slow-tempo Tigers, who were playing in their fifth straight regional and seventh in 12 years under veteran coach Paul Wayne.
Last year, Wayne's team got to the state semifinals for the first time in 10 regional tries, then went on to win the title.
In last night's second semifinal, PCL-champion Continental beat Ottoville 47-40 to avenge its only league loss.
The Pirates (21-3) will face Calvert for the regional championship here Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Calvert's usually up-tempo Senecas, playing in their fourth regional under veteran coach Tony Mass, were patient against Holgate's trademark deliberate pace. They held the Tigers scoreless for the game's first 5:59 and grabbed a 6-0 lead.
"We didn't get a whole lot of shots early, but we made enough to get a little bit of a lead," Mass said. "That gave us a bit of a comfort zone to play with a little bit of confidence.
"Defensively, we played a ballgame tonight. I think a little bit of familiarity [with Holgate's style] helped, because we were frustrated with it last year."
The good beginning was significant for the Senecas, who would take a 9-2 edge on Brad Walliser's 3-pointer with 1:53 left in the first quarter, eight seconds after Blake Sizemore broke the scoring drought for Holgate.
Holgate got within 9-6 on a Lee Brubaker drive 33 seconds into the second quarter, but the Senecas answered with a three-point play from center Aaron Mass and another trey from Walliser (11 points) 3:00 before halftime for a 15-6 advantage.
Down 15-10 at halftime, Holgate continued to struggle shooting the ball, falling back 20-12 with 3:04 left in the third quarter on a bucket by Calvert's Josh Graham (10 points).
Despite the poor shooting (11-of-38, 1-of-13 on 3-pointers), Holgate stayed close with solid defense.
The 19-5 Tigers pulled within 24-22 and seemed to have the momentum in their favor when Logan Brubaker drove for a
layup with 4:31 remaining.
That's when Walliser made the game's pivotal play, drilling a 24-foot 3-pointer from on top to stretch Calvert's lead to five points with 3:46 to go.
"When you get an open look like that," Walliser said, "coach tells us, 'If you're open, shoot it. If you're not going to shoot it, I'm going to take you out.'
"I was wide open, and that was the best look I got all game."
Mass refused to label Walliser's long trey a bad shot.
"He's done that before," Mass said. "I wasn't surprised. It looked good to me all the way.
"Maybe it was just wishful thinking, or maybe there was some prayer involved, but it looked good to me. You need to shoot the ball. Holgate is not going to give you a whole lot inside."
Holgate got within three once more, but the Senecas sealed things by going 6-of-6 from the foul line in the final 38.6 seconds.
"We didn't shoot the ball extremely well, obviously, but we gave ourselves an opportunity [to win]," Wayne said. "These guys battled back and got within a possession. But, to Tiffin Calvert's credit, they did a tremendous job. We cut it to two and had momentum, and they hit the deep three there. That gave them their momentum back."
Calvert was 10-of-25 from the field, 10-of-11 from the line, and outrebounded the Tigers 25-20. Sizemore paced Holgate with eight points and Drew Clady was next with seven.
In the second semifinal, Continental looked to be in dire straits on a few occasions because of the foul trouble experienced by its district player of the year, senior guard Kurtis Brown.
When Brown went to the bench with his third foul just 2:35 into the second quarter, the Pirates trailed 17-9 on Josh Vorst's subsequent free throw.
But Continental sophomore guard Nathan Schmidt sparked an 8-0 run to close the half, pulling his team into a halftime tie (17-17) by scoring six of his 14 total points.
After the break, when Brown picked up foul No. 4 just 50 seconds into the third quarter, Ottoville opened the half with a 10-2 surge to take a 27-19 edge.
This time rugged 6-4 senior forward Nick Wilson rose to the challenge. Wilson would score 14 of his game-high 18 points and grab 10 of his 12 rebounds in the second half.
The stretch drive was a parade to the foul line, and Continental netted 9 of its 14 attempts in the game's final 3:44. Brown, who sat more than half (16:51) of the game, returned to hit five fourth-quarter free throws and ended with eight points.
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