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Second-half offensive woes doom TC

PHOTO BY JONATHON BIRD Napoleon’s Brett Laup is defended by Columbian’s Donnell Brockington as the Tornadoes’ Daniel Bupp (4) and Ro Durham look on during the Division II sectional final in Whitehouse.

WHITEHOUSE — Ro Durham faced the basket, put the ball up and took contact.

The shot went in and the foul was called.

It happened twice during Friday’s Division II sectional final between Columbian and Napoleon at Anthony Wayne High School.

The first time the Tornadoes’ senior had a three-point play opportunity, the Tornadoes led 43-41 and 1:37 remained in the third quarter.

The second and-1 occurred with 1:18 left in the fourth. When Durham completed the three-point play, Columbian was down 57-48.

The Tornadoes offense consisted of only a pair of Durham free throws between his two baskets, and those occurred with 2:06 left in regulation. Napoleon held Columbian scoreless for a stretch of 7:28. The Wildcats scored 14 points in that stretch. And though Columbian was able to make a late rally and get within four points of Napoleon in the final 20 seconds, the offensive struggles were too much to overcome.

Napoleon, behind 23 points from Brett Laup and 16 points and nine rebounds from Reid Sonnenberg, eliminated the Tornadoes with a 58-53 victory.

Columbian finished the game 20 of 59 from the floor, but went just 6 of 32 from 3-point range. Daniel Bupp, TC’s best long-distance shooter, was held scoreless.

Columbian coach Travis Kinn said the Tornadoes have had tough offensive spurts all season.

“It’s kind of been an Achilles heel all year, we just go on stretches where the ball doesn’t quite go in the basket,” he said. “It’s not for a lack of execution, it’s not for a lack of focus, it’s definitely not a lack of effort. I thought the shots we got were great shots, and unfortunately, a couple just rimmed out.”

Columbian lost despite remarkable numbers from Durham, who played his final high school game Friday night. The senior went for 31 points — he had 17 at halftime, with the Tornadoes down 29-28 — and finished with 11 rebounds.

“Absolutely unstoppable tonight,” Kinn said. “I don’t know what his future holds for him, basketball-wise, but whoever ends up with him on their roster next season is going to be very lucky, because he has tremendous talent, and some untapped ability yet.”

Cody Scheer, who along with Bupp and Durham account for TC’s only seniors, finished with 10 points, and had a number of key steals. Todd Simonds and Bupp had six points apiece as the Tornadoes bowed out with an 8-15 mark.

The Wildcats, who have an identical record, advance to play Wauseon Wednesday in Ada in the district semifinals. Wauseon defeated Maumee, 61-40, in Friday’s second game here Friday.

Napoleon had a few leads before the pivotal fourth-quarter stretch. It led 18-14 after one quarter, and 35-28 after Landon Willeman opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3s, which accounted for his only points of the game. In the fourth, Laup hit a jumper and two free throws to give the Wildcats a 48-43 lead, and then Sonnenberg gave the Wildcats their biggest lead — 12 points — with a three-point play with 2:13 left in regulation.

“I thought we played really well defensively, and we made our run there in the fourth quarter to extend the lead,” Napoleon coach Joe Good said. “Which was a good thing, because when they went to press us, we struggled a little bit with that.”

Columbian closed the game on an 8-1 run, getting within 57-53 when Scheer made a stickback with 40 seconds left. And — after the seventh straight miss from the foul line by the Wildcats — Columbian had the ball with 20 seconds left. But Simonds missed a 3, and the clock ran out on the rally. Sonnenberg added a free throw in the final seconds.

“That’s a full credit to our seniors,” Kinn said of TC’s late push. “We only have three, but Daniel Bupp, Cody Scheer and Ro Durham are three of the toughest kids that I’ve coached. Their willingness to play 32 minutes, and play to the whistle and compete the entire game,is tremendous, and that showed tonight.”

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