Justis Dowdy (left) swats away a 3-point attempt from Wayne Trace senior Colby Speice during the Lancers’ 61-59 win on Tuesday. Dowdy scored 19 points for Lincolnview while Speice poured in 14 for the Raiders. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
MIDDLE POINT — Twice this season, Wayne Trace has faced a two-point deficit versus a Van Wert County opponent as time wound down. Twice, the Raiders have gotten good looks at open 3-point attempts that would have won the game. Twice those attempts have missed the mark.
At Lincolnview High School on Tuesday night, Luke Miller’s open three from the right wing glanced off the rim and into the waiting hands of Connor McCleery to secure a 61-59 win for the Lancers.
Lincolnview (10-8) had faced two other state-ranked teams on its home floor this season. The Lancers, however, didn’t put up much resistance against either Crestview or Lima Central Catholic. Facing the ninth-ranked Raiders, however, the Lancers came out determined to protect their home court.
“We just talked about coming out with confidence,” Lancer head coach Brett Hammons noted following the game. “I don’t know how much confidence we had coming out in those two previous games, but we stressed coming out with confidence. We thought we had a shot if we came out and played the game that we could. We have to make things difficult on our home floor, we’re 7-2 now at home, and we gotta make it tough on opposing teams when they come in here. That was our goal.”
Lincolnview served notice early that this would be no walk in the park for Wayne Trace. Senior sharpshooter Kyle Williams got the Lancers rolling early, knocking down a 3-pointer from the wing when Chandler Adams found him on a kick-out.
Adams would find Williams again moments later, with the same result, and the Lancers pushed out to an 8-5 advantage. The Lancers would extend to a five-point bulge on Eli Farmer’s triple from the corner, but a pair of Corbin Linder free throws pulled the Raiders to within 15-12 after one.
Williams kept on shooting, and drained another three, his third, to begin the second quarter. After Linder scored for the Raiders, Lincolnview’s Hayden Ludwig answered with a jumper to establish a 20-14 Lancer lead.
Wayne Trace came back, thanks to a free throw and a 3-pointer from freshman Ethan Linder before Lincolnview’s Justis Dowdy buried a 3-pointer from the corner and it was 23-18, Lancers. The Raiders then used a 9-1 run, boosted by five points from senior Colby Speice to take their first lead of the contest at 27-24.
Dowdy, then, put the Lancers on his back and scored on an offensive rebound, a steal and layup and a turn-around jumper to close the half with Lincolnview leading 30-27.
The game would stay tight throughout the second half. Speice poured in seven points in the third quarter, but that was answered by Williams with seven of his own. Dowdy, who at one point scored 10 of 11 Lancer points in the second and third quarters, scored inside late in the period to reclaim the lead for Lincolnview at 41-40. Another Farmer three made it 44-40 after three.
In the final period, Wayne Trace (14-3) used a strong presence on the offensive glass to create extra possessions. 6-foot-6 David Sinn powered home a basket in the paint to pull the Raiders within two. Later, it was Sinn who scored on a put-back to give Wayne Trace a 53-52 lead with 3:35 to play.
That lead didn’t last, however, as Williams took aim from NBA 3-point range and buried the jumper from the right wing. Corbin Linder answered with a three-point play at the basket to knot the game at 55-55.
Ludwig drained a jumper, just his second field goal of the night, to put the Lancers on top and, with 1:48 on the clock, Raider head coach Jim Linder made a move to bring Miller, a little-used JV player, into the contest for defensive purposes. The move paid immediate dividends, as Miller caught up to Lincolnview’s Austin Leeth from behind and stripped the ball away, leading to a possessions that saw Jake Arend head to the line. Arend made only one free throw, however, and the Lancers maintained a lead.
Dowdy’s driving basket seconds later pushed the lead to three and Corbin Linder was fouled on an offensive rebound, but he, too, made just one-of-two at the line with 24 seconds to play.
A Raider steal on the inbounds pass wound up re-tying the score when the ball worked its way inside to Devin Wenzlick for the easy deuce.
As Lincolnview tried to get the ball inbounds again, however, Williams caught the pass and collided with Wenzlick, sending three players, Williams, Wenzlick, and McCleery, to the floor. Two of them got up quickly. Wenzlick stayed down, clutching his left leg.
A foul was called on Wenzlick on the play, sending Williams to the line, where the senior coolly stroked both shots with 9.7 seconds on the clock. Just enough time for the Raiders get get one final clean look, but it wasn’t to be.
“Just the effort (our kids) gave, not only offensively, but defensively… Wayne Trace is a very good team and we knew what we had to do,” Hammons added. “We had to shut down their scorers, which we did somewhat of a good job on tonight. Just the effort we gave defensively, just pleased. Very pleased.”
The Raiders were paced by Speice and the two Linders, each of whom scored 14 points in the contest. Lincolnview’s Williams poured in 23, thanks to five 3-pointers in the game, while Dowdy filled up the stats sheet with 19 points, six rebounds, two blocks and three assists.
“We talked about the potential they have to score and we knew we were going to have to shut down their three guards,” Hammons continued. “They are very good scorers, and we knew where they were going to get shots, but we knew we couldn’t give them anything wide-open. We had to make things difficult for them, and I thought, for the most part, we did that.”
Wayne Trace leads the all-time series, 34-7 over the Lancers. Wayne Trace won the JV contest, 37-33.
Score by quarters
Wayne Trace 12 15 13 19- 59
Lincolnview 15 15 14 17- 61
Wayne Trace (59)
Wobler 0, Miller 0E. Linder 14, C. Speice 14, Arend 5, C. Linder 14, Wenzlick 6, Sinn 4, Blackmore 2
Leeth 2, Williams 23, Dowdy 19, Adams 4, Ludwig 5, McCleery 2, Farmer 6