Fight to the finish ends with Indians beating Adrian
By MICKEY ALVARADO
Fists, elbows and technical fouls were featured in the second of two meetings between Tecumseh and Adrian’s varsity boys basketball teams where a fight to the finish had the Indians come out on top with a 45-39 Southeastern Conference victory.
It has been quite some time since the Indians were able to pull off an upset over the Maples but on Friday, Feb. 8, they did so in grand style. Tecumseh led from start to finish and at times pushed their lead past a 10-point spread.
“This is a big win, when you beat Adrian” said Tecumseh coach Marc Comstock. “We haven’t beat them in a long time. I’ve been on the other end of that about nine or ten years ago. But that’s the last time. It’s been a while.”
Tecumseh jumped out to an 11-2 first quarter lead with five players scoring. Adrian added another shot from the field and closed the opening quarter down 11-4.
Brad Vannatter led the Indians offense in the second quarter with a three point shot and two strikes from the free throw line. The Indians closed the first half with a 21-10 advantage.
“I thought we really guarded them well all night long,” said Comstock, who coached at Adrian just three season’s ago. “Our kids did a great job this week getting ready for the game. I think they were confident that we could beat them here. They do so many things. They’re a nightmare to prepare for.”
Adrian proved to be scrappy and pulled to within one point with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter. Tecumseh’s Jacob Britt drew his and the team’s second foul and Casey Hunt was given a technical foul. Adrian senior Brandon Bays stepped to the free throw line and connected on four of four shots to pull the Maples within one point at 23-22.
“We knew sooner or later they were going to get going,’ said Comstock. “Because they are a pretty good offensive team.”
However, the Maples quickly fell behind from the efforts of Tecumseh senior Kyle Bryan and freshman Noah Willett. Both connected from the field and Bryan hit the first of two from the free throw line. Willett rebounded Bryan’s second attempt and laid it right back in for a quick eight-point, 30-22, lead at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter.
The Maples began double-teaming the Indians on their offensive returns down the court and with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter chaos ensued. Adrian senior Bret Bartels got tangled up with Bryan and after a long discussion by the officials was ejected from the game for throwing punches.
“That hurt them,” said Comstock, “But you’ve got to keep your composure. The official came over and told me the kid threw three punches. You can’t stay in the ballgame if your throwing punches.”
Vannatter was sent to the free throw line and connected on one of two shots for a 33-23 lead.
Bays went to the free throw line for the Maples and hit two of two shots to end scoring in the third quarter.
Bays was again sent to the free throw line with 5:11 remaining in the final quarter and connected on both shots to pull the Maples within four points (36-32). However, four points was as close as the Maples would get for the rest of the game.
Adrian coach Bart Bartels looked at the Maples’ positives first, saying, “We had great effort in the second half and we played hard right down to the last four seconds.”
He added, “We didn’t come out with any energy and played flat. And didn’t play well enough defensively and rebound the ball. When you’re not rebounding or playing good defense, and you’re not scoring, you’re going to be down by at least 10 at the half. And that’s what happened.”
Brandon Greene pulled Adrian within four points with a three point shot with just 5.7 seconds remaining in the game but Ben Kasper finished all scoring from the free throw line to secure the Tecumseh victory.
“It’s another conference win for us,” said Comstock. “We only won three conference games last year and we’ve matched that already. And, our win total is the same as we finished last year.”
Tecumseh was scheduled to host Northwest on Tuesday, Feb. 12 and Chelsea on Friday, Feb. 15. The Indians host Dexter on Tuesday, Feb. 19 for their final regular season home competition. Game time is 7 p.m.