End of the line
Strong season for Knights comes to a close with quarterfinal loss to Wilmington
ERIE – While both teams looked a little nervous to start the game, Wilmington was better able to shake the early jitters and rolled to a 55-35 win over Eisenhower in their District 10 2A quarterfinal game Friday.
The Greyhounds’ Daniel Hanssen was on fire in the second half, scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points in the final 16 minutes at the Prep and Villa Events Center.
“It took a while for them to get in rhythm,” Eisenhower coach Ryan Williams said. “Once they did, they made us play defense for longer than 20 seconds. When they do that, they’re tough to defend.”
Both teams had trouble getting anything going to open the game. Eisenhower senior Jaydon Hayes went 1-2 from the free throw line for the game’s first point midway through the period and Wilmington’s Cameron Marett connected on the first field goal with 3:30 to play in the opening frame. With 2:52 to go, the score was 4-1 in favor of the Hounds.
“It was an ugly start,” Williams said. “Definitely some jitters there early.”
That first field goal seemed to shake the nerves, at least for Marett as he connected on back-to-back threes to put Wilmington up 10-3 with a minute to go. Hayes was able to connect on a pair of free throws , but Isaiah Jarzab came off the Hounds bench and drilled a deep three on his first shot of the game to give Wilmington a 13-5 lead after the first.
Wilmington’s defensive strategy centered around taking away lanes and forcing the Knights to shoot outside the paint. It worked well for the first quarter and most of the early second. Even when Eisenhower was able to get chances down low, the Hounds were there to swat the shot away.
“They came out in a similar zone (as Union City a couple weeks ago),” Williams said. “We’ve not been good against the zone.”
Ross Venman had a breakaway that looked initially like he would have the shot blocked from behind, but Venman put on the brakes and pump faked Tage Kelliher out of position before calmly banking in a layup. Hayes hit a three just beyond the midway point of the quarter, and suddenly the Knights had cut the lead to 16-11. Zack Fincher followed with another three and Cyrus Hazeltine picked up a loose ball for an easy layup to make it a one possession game at 18-16 with a minute to go.
“For some reason, they went out of that formation and moved to a straight 2-3 zone,” Williams said.
Fincher just missed on a second three late in the period, and Wilmington got the ball in Jarzab’s hands again for his second quarter-ending three to put the Hounds up 21-16 at the half.
The second half was all Hanssen as the junior hit his first three of the quarter to put the Hounds up 26-16 just over a minute into the period. He hit his second three just over two minutes later, after the Knights started the half with offensive fouls on their first two possessions, to make it 31-17 midway through the frame. Eisenhower was only able to get three points in the first six minutes of the half, all courtesy of Hayes free throws.
Fincher and Hayes each hit a three in the final two minutes to get the Knights a little closer, trailing 37-25 with a minute to go, but Jarzab again closed the quarter with a three to give the Hounds a 40-25 lead going into the fourth.
Hanssen scored seven of Wilmington’s next 12 points and the Hounds built a 52-26 advantage midway through the period. Eisenhower had some chances to get things going late, but couldn’t string enough of them together to mount a comeback.
“(Wilmington) is just an all-around good ball club,” Williams said.
Hanssen was the only Wilmington player in double figures, but Jarzab finished with nine and both Marett and Colton Richards pitched in eight points in the win.
Hayes led the Knights with 16 points. Fincher finished with six and Hazeltine five.
Wilmington moves on to the semifinals Thursday for a matchup with West Middlesex, 65-48 winners over Iroquois.
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Hanssen 8-0-0-19, Jarzab 3-0-0-9, Ca. Marett 3-0-0-8, Richards 3-2-3-8, Pontius 3-0-0-6, Co. Marett 2-0-0-4, Reed 0-1-2-1, Yohman 0-0-2-0, Kelliher 0-0-0-0, Totals 22-3-7-55
Hayes 2-10-14-16, Z. Fincher 2-0-0-6, Hazeltine 2-1-2-5, A. Fincher 1-0-0-3, Warren 1-0-0-2, Venman 1-0-0-2, N. Smelko 0-1-2-1, Myer 0-0-0-0, Williams 0-0-0-0, Martone 0-0-0-0, Totals 9-11-16-35
Wilmington 13 8 19 15 – 55
Eisenhower 5 11 9 10 – 35
Three-point FGs: Wilmington (8) – Jarzab (3), Hanssen (3), Ca. Marett (2); Eisenhower (5) – Z. Fincher (2), Hayes (2), A. Fincher