Friday, Apr 27, 2018
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High School

Van Buren tops Toledo Christian

FINDLAY - Van Buren has Toledo Christian's number.

For the second straight year, the Black Knights closed the curtains on the Eagles' season in a boys Division IV district basketball final.

Van Buren scored the first five points in overtime and proceeded to post a 46-39 victory last night at Liberty-Benton.

"They've got a lot of poise and maturity to them, and we have the ability to play terrific defense and we have the ability to put the ball in the basket. So they kept their poise and in the end we prevailed," said Van Buren coach E.J. Frost, describing how the Black Knights outlasted the Eagles.

Matt Phillips scored 17 points - 15 after halftime - to lead the Knights (19-4) to their second straight district title.

Phillips, who also grabbed five rebounds, came up big in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring nine in the fourth period and contributing four of the Knights' nine points in OT.

Van Buren will meet Plymouth in the regional semifinal.

"First half I couldn't buy a bucket, but they're one of the best defensive teams we've played and they have great schemes and coach [Dave] McWhinnie is a great coach," Phillips said. "I knew in the second half I had to do something to help my team, so I just decided to become more aggressive.

"I went down low more and the guys did a great job of getting me the ball. I thought that was key because we moved the ball quicker."

Toledo Christian had an opportunity to win at the end of regulation. With the score tied 37-37, Grant Sims attempted a wide-open 3-pointer off an inbounds play with less than five seconds remaining, The shot looked like it was going to fall for a game-winning basket, but it flipped out of the rim just before time expired.

Ray Wolfe also played big for the Knights, tallying 13 points and grabbing a game-high nine rebounds, including seven

offensive boards.

Chase Marshall, who finished with 11 points, provided the spark for a fast start by the Knights by sinking three 3-pointers in the first quarter.

"To come back and beat them again feels good because you knew they wanted to come back and get revenge," Wolfe said.

Kyle Whitlow and Sims paced the Eagles (21-2) with 13 points each. Carson Oostra added seven points and Ethan Michael finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds.

McWhinnie said falling behind early had an effect on their game plan.

"Chase Marshall came out and hit some big 3s at the beginning," McWhinnie said. "I give him a lot of credit. He stepped up and made some big plays and really helped them jump out to a lead.

"We were trying to take Phillips away early and I thought we did a nice job. And Marshall put us in a hole. We had to scrape and claw all the way out and I don't think our kids ever felt like we were going to lose. Even when we were down we thought we were always going to win and I was proud of us."

Van Buren jumped to a 9-1 lead and finished the opening quarter with a 15-6 edge.

But the Eagles rallied in the second quarter.

Whitlow scored six points to help the Eagles outscore the Knights 10-4 during the frame. The Eagles opened the quarter on an 8-2 run and trailed 17-14 after Michael scored from close range with 2:21 to play in the half.

The Knights, who forced the Eagles into 11 turnovers, led 19-16 at the half.

The Eagles took the lead early in the third quarter when

Michael scored on a bank shot for a 21-19 edge. The teams traded the lead back and forth throughout the second half.

"We had a great season," McWhinnie said. "We had a lot of goals. We fell short of several right here, but I couldn't be more proud of our team."

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