Indians clip Trojans in district opener
Three crucial runs, clutch free throws and a big night by Kyler Ng helped Seneca stave off a furious Southwest comeback on Feb. 19 during the Class 3, District 12 opener.
The host Indians raced to a 14-point lead in the first four and a half minutes, slipped behind by 57-55 in the fourth quarter, then hit eight of 11 free throws down the stretch to take a 67-62 victory.
Ng poured in 28 points to lead the Indians, including 12 of Seneca's 14 points in the second quarter.
Southwest took an early 3-0 lead when Austin Ross launched a rainbow three from the right wing in the first minute of play. Seneca answered with an 8-0 run to take a 19-5 lead on Logan St. Clair's fast break bucket at the 3:36 mark.
The Trojans pulled within 8 points on back-to-back treys by seniors James Pettit and Josh Cutberth. But Seth Harris drained a buzzer-beater triple for the home team to give the Indians a 26-15 bump at the first break.
Southwest chipped away at the lead in the second frame.
Pettit swished a pair of 3-pointers and scored on a backdoor cut to trim the lead to 30-23 at the 4:00 mark. Ng and Southwest's Jordan Epling traded baskets for a 32-25 score and then Seneca rolled to a 40-27 halftime lead with an 8-2 finishing run. Ng snatched an offensive board with time running out and flipped a blind circus shot over his head that ripped the cords at the echo of the buzzer.
The third quarter saw a similar scenario. The relentless Trojans slowly gained momentum, whittling the lead down to 47-41 at the 1:29 mark.
Seneca's defense was focused on shutting down Pettit's outside shooting, allowed Epling and Cutberth to take advantage of the creases in the lane.
Seneca managed another scoring burst, as Elias Rolfsema hit a pair of freebies and Ng scored with four seconds left to create a 51-41 lead at the final break.
The final period witnessed Southwest erupt with the big run. The Trojans rallied for a 13-3 blitz to tie the game at 54-54 on Epling's laser trey from the top of the key. Seneca's Roelfsema regained the lead with a free throw, but Cutberth wowed the crowd with a bomb from the right wing to give Southwest a 57-55 lead with 4:00 on the clock.
Seneca would not panic. Ng tied the game with a layup, then St. Clair scored to give the Indians a 59-57 lead. Ng connected on seven of eight free throws in the final 1:26 to seal the game, despite Pettit swishing a trey on the last shot of his career as a Trojan.
Southwest finished the season at 16-10.
Seneca earned a 54-43 win over Clever in semifinal action and then dropped Mt. Vernon in overtime, 51-47 in Saturday's championship game.
Scoring for Southwest: Pettit and Jordan Epling, 16 points apiece; Cutberth, 15; Ross, 9; Blake Barnes, 4; and Drew Farrer, 2.
Scoring for Seneca: Ng, 28 points; St. Clair, 13; Roelfsema, 11; Harris, 6; Bradley Jumper, 5; and Chance Smith, 4.