One Toledo Area Athletic Conference boys basketball team found a way to overcome a nemesis and keep its season alive last weekend.
Another TAAC school will look to do the same thing as both play in the Division IV district semifinals tonight at Liberty-Benton.
Ottawa Hills will open the semifinals by playing Van Buren in a game that will tip off at 6:15 p.m. Toledo Christian will challenge Continental in the nightcap in a battle of state-ranked schools that is expected to start at 8 p.m.
The Green Bears were the team that finally overcame an adversary when they knocked off Cardinal Stritch 57-43 in the sectional final at Northview Friday. Twice during the regular season the Cardinals had beaten Ottawa Hills by two points.
"I think the third time we had an outstanding defensive effort, especially after the first quarter," OH coach John Lindsay said. "Offensively I think we did a nice job of taking care of the basketball, something we didn't do the previous two times.
"We played a little too fast the first two games. We didn't make good decisions and we took quick shots."
The Green Bears (17-4) are led by two of the
TAAC's top scorers in Andrew Wolff, a senior who averages 14.2 points per game, and Brent Abendroth, a junior who contributes 13.3 points per contest.
Sophomore center Phillip Beans, who averages 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, also plays a key role in Ottawa Hills' success.
"For us to be successful, we have to handle 'Hancock County basketball,' a very physical type of play," Lindsay said, citing Van Buren's home county.
"Offensively we must play with discipline and execute well. We have to be strong with the ball and set solid screens."
Van Buren (19-2) lost only to two of the top Division III teams in the area - Liberty-Benton and Patrick Henry.
Ranked sixth in the state in the final Division IV poll of the season, the Black Knights are led by juniors Matt Phillips and Logan Grant, each of whom averages better than 14 points per game.
In the second game of the night Toledo Christian will look to overcome a Continental team that has knocked the Eagles out of the tournament in each of the last three seasons.
While having two teams ranked among the top squads in the state - Toledo Christian was ranked third in the final poll, Continental 10th - makes the clash intriguing, the fact that the programs have faced each other before adds to the intrigue.
"This feels like a league game because we know them so well," TC coach Dave McWhinnie said. "We scrimmage them two or three times in the summer.
"There's a lot of respect between the players and the coaches and everyone else in both programs."
The Eagles (21-0) boast a lot of weapons on offense.
Sophomore Ethan Michael leads the team with 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but four other seniors contribute better than eight points per contest: Jacob Weemes (10.4), Jack Sims (10.3), Blake Powell (9.3) and Tyler Boris (8.3).
The Pirates also have several weapons in seniors Nathan Schmidt and Ben Miller, but the midseason loss of fine 3-point shooter Scott Keck to injury caused Continental (16-5) to lose three straight before winning its last four games.
"They're still one of the best programs in the state," McWhinnie said of the Pirates. "We all feel bad that Keck isn't able to play, but we know it should be an incredibly exciting game. Rebounding is what this game will come down to."
ADRIAN - Kyle Wagenknecht scored 21 points for Summerfield in a Class C district boys basketball. The Bulldogs will play Blissfield at 6 tomorrow.
Josh DuPree paced Whiteford with 20 points.
ADRIAN 43, TECUMSEH 27
ADRIAN - Brad Ohrman scored 11 points as the Maples won in Class A.