BERNE -- Woodlan had a defensive plan going in to its Class 2A South Adams Sectional final against Canterbury on Monday night. Good thing it had a backup.
The Warriors came out in a zone but after the Cavaliers hit five threes in the first quarter they quickly switched. Woodlan (18-6) went into a man-to-man defense and it eventually helped the school take home a 71-67 victory against Canterbury (10-13) and its first sectional title since 1997. The Warriors play Winamac in the first round of the North Judson Regional at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“I think as a coach you have to say, 'Okay, throw plan A out, let's see what plan B looks like,” Woodlan head coach Dave Randall said. “To the kids credit, they wanted to play man-to-man. They wanted to dig in and put it on them, and they did.”
This switch was key after the Cavaliers came out firing from deep. Led by long threes from Trevor Uhl, Canterbury built a 20-8 lead in the first quarter before things started to change.
“In the zone they were stretching us out,” said Woodlan senior Greg White, who led the team with 18 points. “When we called timeout, we told coach (Randall) we were comfortable in man and it stopped them from shooting from three. We just had to pick up our intensity, come down and get into them.”
As Woodlan switched away from a zone to limit Canterbury, it took advantage of the Cavaliers going into one in the second quarter. Kadin Gerig had been limited early but he hit two straight threes and scored eight straight points for the Warriors after the Canterbury switch tobring them within 33-30 late in the second quarter. Gerig finished the game with 17 points.
“When they put that 2-3 (zone) out we kind of lit up,” Randall said. “Everyone face guards Kadin (Gerig) and for them to play a 2-3 zone, we just thought, 'Okay, that's cool.' ”
With Woodlan limiting the Cavaliers outside it looked inside to Andrew Kus. The big man routinely found himself securing and-one opportunities or passing to the open man when he was double-teamed. He kept Canterbury in the game with his 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists until the Cavaliers hurt themselves in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 55-52 at the start of the final quarter, Canterbury went cold from the free throw line. The Cavaliers missed five free throws in the opening few minutes as Woodlan built a lead that it would never relinquish.
“It's one of the oldest adages in the book in coaching, in a close game, it's all about who hits layups and free throws,” Canterbury head coach Scott Krieger said. “They hit theirs and we missed ours. There's no excuses, got nobody guarding you and you can't put the ball in the basket, you probably don't deserve to win.”
The win for Woodlan helped secure its first sectional title since 1997 when most of the players were in diapers, if they were born yet. For the senior class it gave them another goal attained after winning the ACAC Tournament and regular season conference crowns.
“As seniors, you kind of have to lead the younger guys, show them what's up and we've worked hard to set the culture back to where it should be at Woodlan,”
Gerig said. “Before, teams look at us when they were on the schedule and they were happy to play us, and now I think that's changing a lot for Woodlan.”
WOODLAN 71, CANTERBURY 67
Woodlan 14 20 21 16 — 71
Canterbury 23 13 16 15 — 67
Woodlan: White 18, Jones 12, Gerig 17, Bennett 13, Stieglitz 5, Gustin 6.
Canterbury: Uhl 16, Krieger 3, Paul 8, Sinn 10, Kus 20, White 8, Camp 2.