GRANVILLE — There wasn’t much celebration Wednesday night when the Hall boys basketball team walked into the locker room despite the Red Devils having just advanced to the Tri-County Conference Tournament title game.
“I’m proud of the kids’ effort, but when we walked in here, it was dead silent,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said after his team topped No. 8-seeded Roanoke-Benson 49-40 at Putnam County. “Some of the kids said they aren’t satisfied yet.”
The No. 5 Red Devils (7-12) will play No. 2 Putnam County (15-7) at 8 p.m. Friday in the championship game.
“Putnam County’s a good team, so it’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” Filippini said. “We’ve talked all year to the kids about getting hot at the right time. When you’re 7-12, people think you’re bad, but we’re 2-0 in this tournament and we’re going to play for the championship. That’s great confidence going into the regional where if you just get hot the right week, you can do something.”
The Panthers reached the title game for the second year in a row by surviving three overtimes to beat Streator Woodland 74-71.
“It will be another battle,” PC coach Josh Nauman said. “The Tri-County Tournament is always a fun time. Teams come out here and play hard. It’s a big deal to a lot of teams and it always seems to have great games. Tonight was another classic. Hopefully, Friday night will be too, although I wouldn’t complain if we just made it easy and walked away with it. But I don’t see that happening. It’s probably going to be another tight game.”
No. 5 Hall 49, No. 8 Roanoke-Benson 40
The Red Devils stumbled out of the block as they fell behind 7-2 with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
But Hall quickly righted the ship, ending the quarter on a 7-2 run capped by a Brett Fanning 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second left to send the Red Devils to the second quarter down 10-9.
Ian Trevier sank a 3-pointer on Hall’s first possession of the second quarter to give the Red Devils the lead for good at 12-10.
“We started the game ice cold,” Filippini said. “We looked a little scared, but our defense kept us in it, then we finally took the lead (in the second quarter) and we never relinquished it after that.”
Hall, which does not have a player taller than 6-foot-3, had some trouble in the first quarter with 6-5 R-B post Michael Doss.
The junior scored five points in the first quarter but managed just two in each the second and third quarters.
“Our kids were trying to front him up top, but he was quick enough to get down low,” Filippini said. “The only adjustment we made was trying to beat him to the spot as the ball moved instead of fronting him up high where we were.”
Hall led 23-17 at halftime and 32-25 after three quarters, but the Rockets cut their deficit to 32-28 early in the fourth.
The Red Devils then went on an 8-1 run to take a 40-29 lead with 4:39 left.
“We just pulled the ball out and started taking it to the basket,” Filippini said. “We’ve done a great job both nights (of the tournament) getting fouled and getting to the hoop. … It seemed like almost every possession we were getting a foul. It’s because our kids were taking it to the hoop. We were trying to force the officials to call fouls. That’s when we’re at our best.”
Fanning scored a game-high 24 points, while Miguel Villarreal added 11.
Putnam County 74, Woodland 71, (3 OT)
The Panthers trailed for all but 1:32 of regulation and faced a five-point deficit with 29.9 seconds left, but senior Xavier Warren knocked down two 3-pointers in the final 26.3 seconds to force overtime.
Putnam County trailed in each of the first two overtimes but managed to force a third extra session.
In the final overtime, the Panthers took the lead for good at 72-71 on a Cody Veronda 3-pointer with 1:20 left, but PC then missed seven consecutive free throws to give the Warriors chances.
Still, Putnam County found a way to win.
“The first 3 1/2 quarters it wasn’t real pretty,” Nauman said. “They did a good job defensively. They took us out of a lot of things we wanted to do. We could just never get any flow going. We just didn’t seem like ourselves. I don’t know, but all of a sudden we had a little comeback there and got new life going into overtime and we were able to keep battling.
“We kept playing hard and we found ways to make plays when we needed to.”
In the third OT, Putnam County junior Sam Garland grabbed four rebounds, blocked a shot with half a minute left and stole a late inbounds pass to help PC hang on.
Veronda hit 1-of-2 free throws with 18.9 seconds left and Warren sank 1-of-2 with 14.5 remaining.
“Sam stepped up big. He made some big plays down the stretch,” Nauman said. “A lot of guys did. Cody and Xavier were great tonight. We had a lot of guys play well. Dusty (Miller) played pretty well before he went out (with five fouls). Evan (Kreiser) was playing real well in the first half (before getting injured in the third).”
Veronda and Warren each scored 26 points.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.