Turpin Takes Share of ECC Title

Posted on: February 17, 2021

The Lebanon Warriors traveled to Klinger Court with lots of motivation.  A win would guarantee them at least a piece of the ECC title, while at the same time, denying Turpin’s share of the top spot.  It would also avenge their only ECC loss, which came early in the season at the hands of the Spartans.  


The game did not begin well for the Spartans, as the Warriors looked determined to set the tone early, taking an 8-0 lead and forcing Coach Slonim to call a time out less than two minutes into the game.  Turpin found their footing when Junior, Jack Selfridge had seen enough and notched back to back scores for the Spartans.  Dom Cantrella followed with a pull-up three, but the home team still trailed 15-8 after one quarter of play. 


Brady Hardewig started the second quarter with a drive to the hole and a foul.  Matthew Johnson’s unrelenting defense led to his first of three steals, as he fed Cantrella for a layup to pull the Spartans within two at 15-13.  Johnson then got aggressive on offense and was rewarded with a trip to the line, sinking one of two.  It was the start of an 8-2 run, including Theisen Lee finding Hardewig down low for a layup.  Johnson returned to the foul line, but this time he collected on both attempts.  Matt Sheffer capped the run with a signature three, giving the Spartans their first lead of the night, 21-19.  But it would be short-lived, as Lebanon scored the next three points to re-take the lead and closed the half at 22-21.  


Lebanon scored first in the second half, before Ethan Zinn grabbed on offensive board and deposited his first basket of the game.  The Warriors then scored 8 straight to establish a 32-23 advantage.  Hardewig battled back by snatching his own rebound and putting it back up and in, despite being harassed by several taller Warriors.  Lebanon would stretch the lead to eleven after hitting four free-throws, giving them a commanding 36-25 lead, late in the third.  But Turpin answered with a 7-0 run to end the quarter, including a jumper by Zinn followed by Hardewig’s three-ball and two free-throws from Lee.  


Trailing 36-32, Cantrella extended the run in the fourth when he slashed to the basket for two.  Lebanon held a 39-34 lead before the Spartans made their push down the stretch.  It started at the 4:25 mark when Selfridge connected on a jumper in the lane.  Matthew Johnson looked every bit of an All-ECC cornerback when he picked off a Warrior pass for a layup, igniting the team and the crowd!  He followed that up by outjumping a much taller opponent to secure a critical defensive rebound.  Down 41-38, with 1:38 remaining, Theisen Lee was fouled in the process of pulling down an offensive board.  He made both, cutting the deficit to just one.  Cantrella’s only steal of the night came at just the right time, as he had a clear path to the basket, recapturing the lead at 42-41 with 1:10 on the clock.  Turpin’s defense held and they regained possession with 0:44 remaining.  As the Warriors had only committed three fouls to this point, they had four to give before Deven Marathe went to the line at the 0:17 mark.  He made the critical front-end but the back-end would not follow.  Lebanon called a time out with 5.7 seconds left.  The play they ran gave them an open look at a corner three, but it was a long air-ball.  However, it fell into the hands of their big-man who was able to dump it in and tie it at 43 as the buzzer sounded.  The fate of the ECC Title would be decided in overtime.  


The Warriors won the tip-off, but despite Johnson’s third steal of the night, the Spartans were unable to capitalize.  Turpin fell behind by three early before Hardewig hit a trey from the top of the key, tying it up again at 46.  After the Warriors regained the lead at 48-46, Hardewig drove the lane and kicked it out to sharp-shooter, Ethan Zinn who was in the corner for a three-point attempt… YAHTZEE!!!  Turpin’s defense held once again.  Now with the ball and the 49-48 lead, Turpin was fouled with 0:18 remaining but the front-end attempt would not fall.  Lebanon called a time out with 6.2 seconds to come up with a plan.  As the Warrior moved toward the hoop on the wing, he was met by none other than Matthew Johnson who was playing heads-up, help-defense and he nearly stole the ball, swatting it out of bounds.  But the Warriors maintained possession with 2.4 on the clock.  The in-bounds pass under the basket was well defended and the ball was mishandled, causing a desperation heave which never had a prayer as time expired. 


This was a true team effort as everyone who stepped on the court contributed significantly to the victory.  Every point, assist, steal and rebound were critical, down to the last free-throw.  Celebration was in order and each player took turns cutting down the net for the second year in a row…back-to-back ECC Champions!!!  


As it stands, Turpin, Lebanon and Walnut Hills all have two ECC losses.  However, Walnut and Lebanon are scheduled to play on February 15th.  Weather reports predict heavy snow which may cause the game to be cancelled and it may not be re-scheduled due to the start of the play-offs.  If so, there may be a three-way share of the ECC Title.  This, despite Turpin sweeping the Lebanon series. 


Notable Performances:

Scoring:   Hardewig-13; Cantrella-10; Zinn-7; Selfridge-6; Johnson-5; Lee-4; Sheffer-3; Marathe-1

Rebounds:  Cantrella, Johnson, Lee-5; Zinn-4; Hardewig-3; Sheffer, Gundrum, Selfridge-1

Steals:  Johnson-3, Cantrella, Hardewig-1

Blocks:  Johnson, Zinn-1