Second-half adjustments lift Washington over Mid-Prairie
Washington head boys’ basketball coach Bryce Smeins, who has used seven different starting lineups this season, put a new five on the floor to start the second half of Tuesday’s non-conference game against Mid-Prairie.
That lineup seemed to spark the Demons, who went on a 12-2 run to open the second half, turning a one-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead. Washington never trailed again and went on to defeat the Golden Hawks 46-38.
“We came out with a little different lineup in the second half and we had some kids playing in some different spots,” Smeins said. “We got some good ball movement and some good looks.”
Kyle Roder, Daryn Sebelius, Elijah Wood, Alex Coker and Justin Hoffman started the third quarter for the Demons (5-13). Roder opened the second half with a 3-pointer to give Washington its first lead since early in the second quarter, but Mid-Prairie junior Spencer Shalla answered with a pair of free throws to tie the score. The Demons scored the next nine points. Hoffman hit a jumper off of a pass from Roder, who had moved to point guard, and Coker hit a leaner along the baseline. Then Sebelius nailed a 3-pointer and hit a short jumper on a feed from Roder to put Washington ahead 32-23.
The five players whom Smeins put on the floor to start the second half also controlled the boards.
“It’s a bigger lineup, and we rebound well with that lineup,” Smeins said. “It’s a big, strong lineup.”
Washington out-rebounded the Golden Hawks 28-10 in the second half, and didn’t give Mid-Prairie many second looks at the basket.
“We had a sudden spark, and everybody was going after rebounds,” Sebelius said. “We had to keep calling ‘same team, same team,’ because two people were fighting for it. We were stronger in the second half.”
“They were definitely more physical,” Mid-Prairie head coach Chris Kern said. “We didn’t do a good job of boxing out, and they got some key boards underneath.”
The Golden Hawks struggled to score in the second half, going 5-for-28 from the field after the intermission.
Mid-Prairie junior Nick Stimson’s steal and layup with 3:20 remaining in the game trimmed Washington’s lead to 40-37, but the Golden Hawks missed four shots that would have cut further into the lead. Finally, Washington sophomore Thomas Bump banked in a short jumper and the Demons made a few free throws to pull away down the stretch.
“They beat us earlier in the year, so it was nice to close out the win tonight at home and move on,” said Smeins, whose team lost to the Golden Hawks 48-46 in Wellman on Nov. 27.
Hoffman scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Washington, which snapped a four-game losing streak. Roder added 10 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Coker had six points to go with eight rebounds, and Bump had six points and six boards. Sebelius chipped in five points and six rebounds.
Shalla scored 12 points to lead Mid-Prairie (8-12), which lost its fourth straight game.
The Golden Hawks also struggled to shoot the ball at the beginning of Tuesday’s game, missing their first 10 shots as the Demons built a 13-1 lead. But Washington turned the ball over on each of its first five possessions in the second quarter, and Mid-Prairie took advantage to tie the game at 13.
“It was a struggle there at first,” Kern said. “But we went into our 1-2-1-1 press and got some steals and got back into it.”
Junior Nathan Faselt put back a missed shot to cap Mid-Prairie’s 16-0 run and give the Golden Hawks a 17-13 lead. But even though the Demons turned the ball over 15 times in the first half, including 11 times in the second quarter, they went to the locker room only trailing by one point at the half. And that’s when Smeins adjusted his lineup.
“I thought those five guys played the best in the first half,” he said.