WINAMAC | In order to have a chance to defend their sectional title, Hebron knew they would have to play flawless defense.
“We have to press hard and force them into bad shots all night,” Hawks coach John Steinhilber said. “We cannot let them have clean looks at the basket.”
But the Warriors were simply too big and too athletic for the Hawks. Winamac buried eight 3-pointers from the arc, and scored 26 transition points in the paint as they routed the Hawks 74-56 in the Class 2A Sectional 34 semifinal.
Winamac (10-12) went on a pair of 6-2 runs to start the game and quickly built a 20-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Hebron (9-11) cut the lead to two, 28-26, with 3:12 left in the second quarter. But a trey by Adam Gruenig and another by Joseph Garnett helped push the Warriors out to a 36-30 halftime lead.
Winamac started the third with a 7-0 run to expand their lead, but it was the 11-0 run to end the third that sealed the deal. Hebron was behind 56-40 to start the fourth.
Tony Rose led the Hawks with 17 points, Jon Moneta had 11 rebounds, and Spencer Sheets chipped in 12 points and four assists.
In the nightcap, Boone Grove (13-8) shook off the rust and the nerves with a dominant 22-6 fourth quarter to advance to the final game with a 59-39 win over Rochester.
The Zebras (7-16) jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter behind four points each from Luke Cannedy and Jonathon O’Dell.
It was the Wolves’ first game in the sectional, and it showed. They missed three easy jumpers early on and showed a lack of aggression on the boards.
Rochester led 22-21 at the half.
But Boone Grove came out in the third looking like a different team. They pushed the ball into the paint and fed Jake Clapp, who responded with eight point and seven rebounds in the third. The Wolves took a 37-33 lead into the final quarter.
The Wolves dominated the final period 22-6.
Boone Grove and Winamac meet at 6:30 p.m. today for the championship.