GRANVILLE — Upsets were in the air Monday in quarterfinal action at the Tri-County Conference Tournament in Granville.
Top-seeded Henry saw its bid for a championship derailed with a 63-60 loss to No. 8-seeded Roanoke-Benson, while No. 7-seeded Midland tried to take a page out of the Rockets’ playbook in the nightcap against host Putnam County, but couldn’t complete a late comeback as the second-seeded Panthers survived to advance with a 51-46 win.
Putnam County advances to Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal where it will face the winner of tonight’s 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal between No. 3 Woodland and No. 6 Marquette.
The Rockets will look to keep their Cinderella run alive in Wednesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal where they will face the winner of tonight’s 6 p.m. game between No. 5 Hall and No. 4 Peoria Christian.
Putnam County 51, Midland 46
The Panthers already owned a pair of wins over the Timberwolves, including a 59-33 victory last Friday when limited Midland to seven second-half points.
The Timberwolves made a determined effort to not let history repeat itself.
Down 46-36 after a basket from PC’s Evan Kreiser to open the fourth quarter, Midland managed to whittle down the double-digit deficit with an 8-2 run to trail 48-44 with 2:30 left in the game.
After missing on the front end of a pair of bonus free throw attempts, the Panthers finally broke their drought from the charity stripe to halt the run with 1-of-2 throws from Kreiser and take a 49-44 lead with 17.7 seconds left.
Midland senior Jay Salisbury kept things interesting with a basket in the lane on the other end to pull the Timberwolves to within three at 47-44 with 8.8 seconds left, but PC junior Harold Fay was able to ice the win with a pair of free throws with 6.7 ticks remaining.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row, especially when we blew them out the first two. No matter how many times you tell your kids, it’s not going to be easy,” Putnam County coach Josh Nauman said. “They’ll come out playing hard and strange things seem to happen in this tournament all the time.
“It’s just hard to come out with that intensity. Friday, I think we held them to seven points in the second half and seven total field goals and it’s hard to come out and do that again.”
Senior Cody Veronda led the Panthers with 12 points, all coming from behind the 3-point arc. Fay finished with 11 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds, while senior guard Xavier Warren added 11 points for PC (14-7).
Junior Nick Varvil led Midland (7-13) with 16 points. Salisbury added 13 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds.
Roanoke-Benson 63, Henry 60
The Mallards watched a six-point halftime lead dissipate into a 41-41 tie after the third quarter and could not come up with enough stops down the stretch as the Rockets rallied for the upset.
The Rockets used a 3-pointer from junior Derek Kennell and drive and one-handed shot from freshman Ryan Fehr to take a 46-43 lead with 7:10 to play in the fourth quarter.
Henry junior forward Nathan Helle responded with a layup in transition, but back-to-back jumpers from 6-foot-5 R-B junior center Michael Doss pushed the Rockets’ lead back up to five points.
Henry cut the deficit to two on a baseline drive from Jake Schlosser with 2:25 to play.
Once again, the Rockets answered with back-to-back baskets in the paint from Sam Luginbule and Doss, and the underdogs never led by less than three as they held on, despite Henry’s best efforts, with 6-of-6 free throw shooting.
“That’s what this week’s about,” Henry coach Steve Self said. “You’ve got to bring it every night, and if you don’t you’re sitting on the other side of the bracket. We just didn’t get any stops. They scored at will and we were there with five or six minutes left down three or four points. … The difference was going to be getting stops and we didn’t do it. They continued to score and we never got the stops — and that’s while we’ll be playing on Thursday (in the consolation bracket) instead of Wednesday. Give them credit. They played a heck of a game.”
Helle led Henry (16-4) with team highs of 18 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Condit added 15 points, Schlosser tallied 13, and Kyle Henderson 10.
Doss led the Rockets (5-14) with 18 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter. He also added a game-high 15 rebounds.
Sophomore Clayton Barth added 13 points for R-B — including 4-for-4 shooting from the foul stripe with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
Sullivan registered nine of his 11 points with a trio of treys in the third quarter to help the Rockets erase their halftime deficit.
“We’re a young team and our schedule is top notch.... We play a lot of tough non-conference teams to prepare for this time of year. I told (my team) that records mean nothing when tournaments happen. This is the biggest tournament of the year next to regionals, and we finally got over the hump,” Roanoke-Benson coach Abe Zeller said. “Hopefully, this game can make a few of our guys believe.”
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.