FAIRFIELD — Wilmington High Schools boys basketball team saw its hopes for a fifth consecutive sectional title derailed Saturday night as the third-seeded Oak Hills Highlanders toppled the Hurricane, 55-36, at Fairfield High School in a Division I Cincinnati sectional matchup.
Wilmington concludes the season at 13-10, while the Highlanders (22-3) move on to Div. I Southwest District competition at the University of Dayton Arena 1 p.m. Saturday against Springfield.
WHS head coach Michael Noszka knew the Highlanders would be a force to be reckoned with.
“They have been battling the last few years as sophomores and juniors in the quest for a sectional title,” Noszka said. “Many of them are seniors now and they certainly lived up to their seed. Oak Hills is a very tough team and they have the capability to make it to Columbus.”
Three players for Oak Hills scored 17 points — Ryan Batte, Cam Naber and Luke Rudy. Battle did not miss a shot as he was 6 for 6 from the field and 5 for 5 from the free throw line.
Chris Wolary, one of the two graduating WHS seniors, was the lone player reaching double figures with 11 points. Dylan Beaugard and Jeffery Mansfield each added seven points.
Also inserted into the game in the second half was senior Alex Wright. Noszka praised Wright for his leadership qualities.
“Alex has been an extremely dedicated player who has served our program well,” Noszka said. “Chris is an outstanding player who has contributed mightily to our success. All year long, we’ve had the bulls-eye on our chest because of our past accomplishments. This team is very coachable, we’ve had no attendance issues whatsoever, and have worked extremely hard all year.”
Wilmington stayed relatively close with the Highlanders for much of the first half. The game was tied in the early-going at 5-5, and Oak Hills led 17-13 at the first quarter break. Wilmington pulled ahead with a surge of its own early in the second period, 18-17, but the lead was short-lived.
The Highlanders reeled off 11 unanswered points and stormed into the locker room with a 34-23 lead.
Offensive woes, which have plagued Noszka’s team at times this season, reared their ugly head once more and a cold third quarter proved to be the downfall. WHS was held to just five points while the Highlanders added 15, and took a commanding lead, 49-28, going into the final quarter.
Noszka credited the Highlanders with executing their game plan and watched repeatedly as his teams’ shot attempts misfired. Oak Hills dominated the boards by a wide margin, 29-14. Matt Smith pulled down a team-high three rebounds for the Hurricane.
Oak Hills was on fire from the opening tip, shooting 63 percent from the field (12 of 19) in the first half and was equally good in the second half with a 9 for 14 effort. By comparison, Wilmington shot just 41 percent in the first half, connecting on 9 of 22 attempts, but followed that with a dismal showing 5 for 20 in the second half.
“They were simply outstanding,” Noszka said of the Highlanders. “We came in with the right mindset. We were ready to play with dreams of making it to the districts. But our shots weren’t falling and they just killed us on the boards. When you can’t make shots, it’s not going to be a very good day.”
March 4, 2017
@Fairfield High School
Oak Hills 55 Wilmington 36
(55) OAK HILLS (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Deifel 0-0-0-0 Naber 6-3-2-17 Rudy 7-2-1-17 Wieck 0-0-0-0 Batte 6-0-5-17 Berkmeier 0-0-0-0 Spille 1-0-0-2 Woycke 0-0-0-0 Holmes 1-0-0-2 Appiarius 0-0-0-0 Strader 0-0-0-0 Wright 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 21-5-8-55
(36) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Gauche 0-0-0-0 M. Smith 1-1-0-3 Beaugard 3-1-0-7 Mansfield 2-2-1-7 Wolary 5-1-0-11 Morris 1-0-0-2 Griffith 2-2-0-6 Coomer 0-0-0-0 Wright 0-0-0-0 Barker 0-0-0-0 C. Smith 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 14-7-1-36
FIELD GOALS: OH 21-33 (Battle 6-6 Naber 6-8); W 14-42 (Wolary 5-11 Griffith 2-4 Morris 1-1)
3 PT FIELD GOALS: OH 5-10 (Naber 3-4); W 7-25 (Mansfield 2-4 Griffith 2-4)
FREE THROWS: OH 8-9 (Batte 5-5); W 1-3 (Mansfield 1-2)
REBOUNDS: OH-29 (Battle 9 Rudy 6 Deifel 6); W-14 (M. Smith 3 Wolary 2 Mansfield 2 Beaguard 2 Gauche 2)
ASSISTS: OH-17 (Deifel 10 Naber 4); W-10 (Beaugard 4 Mansfield 3)
STEALS: OH-9 (Batte 4 Rudy 2); W-10 (Beaugard 4 M. Smith 2 Mansfield 2)
BLOCKED SHOTS: OH-0, W-0
TURNOVERS: OH-14, W-11
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet