JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
As Ohio's all-time high school basketball scoring leader, Upper Sandusky's Jon Diebler has little more to prove in that department.
What he'd like to do now is get his Rams back to the state final four. They went 27-0 and won the Division II state championship when he was a sophomore in 2005
Although a double-teamed Diebler was "held" to 23 points, matching his season low, he got plenty of help from his teammates last night as the 10th-ranked Rams took a 79-62 victory over eighth-ranked Van Wert in a D-II regional semifinal before an estimated crowd of 8,000 at Savage Hall.
Picking up much of the slack was 6-3 sophomore Alex Falk, who tallied 20 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Rams (21-3)
"When everyone's out there scoring and having a good time, it's a blast," Diebler said. "Throughout the tournament we've played great team basketball, and we've had a lot of guys step up. That's what you need to do in the tournament.
"Alex played extremely well tonight, and he's showing everyone across the state how good he can be."
Falk, who was 9-of-17 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line, was asked if there was pressure on him with his high-scoring teammate slowed by the Cougars' defensive scheme.
"I wouldn't call it pressure," Falk said. "I'd call it an opportunity. It was a team effort. We all came out ready to go, and we were all on one page. That's what we need every game."
Upper Sandusky will face Olmsted Falls, which was tied at No. 8 in the state rankings with Van Wert, in tomorrow night's 7:30 regional final here.
Diebler - who broke the 22-year-old state scoring record of New Concord John Glenn's Jay Burson (2,958 career points, 1981-85) in Upper Sandusky's regular-season finale against Norwalk on Feb. 23 - entered tourney play with 2,960 points.
The 6-foot-7 Ohio State University-bound guard has added 35, 43, 43 and now 23 points for 144 in postseason action for totals of 998 on the season and 3,104 for his career.
Those numbers meant enough to Van Wert coach David Froelich coming into last night's game that he opted to scrap his usual straight-up man-to-man defense and use a gimmick double-team scheme on Diebler.
The Cougars did win the battle of limiting Diebler's production, but lost the war in attempting to advance in the tourney.
"It wasn't real good for us," Froelich said. "We concentrated so hard on trying to get it out of his hands and do some things to see if other guys could beat us, and they certainly did. That's my fault. It wasn't anything our guys did.
"To their credit, [Upper's] kids made the open jump shots and we dug ourselves a hole. You certainly can't do that against a team like this. If we had it to do over again, we'd probably play it straight man early and see what happens. But I don't get that luxury."
Diebler, who took 47 shots in his 69-point effort in a loss to Bellevue this season, attempted just four (all 3-point tries) in the first half last night, and hit just one. He added three free throws for six points. He took 13 shots overall.
"To his credit, he really didn't force a lot in the first half," Froelich said of Diebler. "He did a good job of finding open guys. He's a special player."
The Rams, who were 10-of-26 from 3-point range in the game, bolted to a quick 9-0 lead in the first 2:14 and never looked back.
The lead was up to 25-11 after one quarter and 45-23 at halftime.
Diebler added 10 rebounds and six assists to the 23 points on his "off night."
His only two other games under 30 points this season were 23 versus Bucyrus and 28 against Tiffin Columbian. His season average stands at 41.6.
"I think lost in the chase for Jay Burson's record was that some other players on the team had been playing pretty well," Rams coach Keith Diebler said. "When you average 96 points a game, there's some other guys scoring those 50-55 other points.
"These guys have quietly come along and gotten better. They're extremely confident, and think that, if it comes their way, they're going to make it happen."
Travis Bachtell added nine points for the Rams. Chris Morrow led Van Wert with 15.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6461.