By SCOTT COTTOS
FINDLAY — All basketball coaches preach the necessity of making free throws. Those words, of course, are met with different results.
Hopewell-Loudon’s boys struck gold from the free-throw line by making 21 of 26 for the game, including 17 of 22 in the fourth quarter, and emerged with a 51-43 victory over Liberty-Benton on Friday night in a Blanchard Valley Conference contest.
The Chieftains’ 17 free throws accounted for all of their fourth-quarter points as they improved to 12-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play. Jake Simonis made 12 of his 14 attempts from the line on the night and scored a team-high 15 points for H-L.
Austin May dropped in nine free throws of his own on his way to a game-high 26 points for the Eagles, who fell to 4-14 overall and 3-6 in the BVC.
“We shot very well (from the line) a few game this year and very poorly (in others), and usually that old adage comes back — you’ve got to make your free throws when they’re presented to you,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Roger Jury said. “That’s amazing, in the fourth quarter, all 17 points on free throws. That’s not too bad.
“Eighty-one percent (from the line). Our goal is 70 and we haven’t made that many times, but a few nights we have.”
After May, L-B’s next-highest scorer was Josh Reindel with six points.
“We need to do a better job of moving the basketball and getting multiple people involved,” Eagles coach Ben Gerken said. “Austin was our main focus tonight, offensively. But looking in the scorebook, for us to have success we need to have a little bit more balanced scoring. We need other guys to step up. And as a coach, I need to be able to put those players in a position (to score). So, what I’m thinking now is, ‘What can I do to get players in position where they can have some success?'”
Jury was happy to just scrap out a victory over a program that historically has been a thorn in the side to other teams.
“The kids executed really well. We played really hard. Liberty-Benton’s really turned the corner recently (with two straight wins),” he said. “They’re a really good team. It’s hard to play on the road, and playing at Liberty-Benton any time is hard. I’m so proud of these kids. They battled the whole time. They made a lot of mistakes. We’re still saying we’re young. … We’re pretty good right now, but we can be really, really good.”
The Chieftains’ Carter Coffman hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that gave his team a 34-29 lead and ultimately helped give his team an extra bit of breathing room.
H-L took its biggest lead at 42-35 with 2:51 left in the game. L-B worked its way back to trail 45-43 when May, who ended up with 11 rebounds, scored on a putback with 1:15 remaining. The Eagles, however, would not score from that point on while missing five shots. In that same span, Simonis made 5 of 6 from the line and Jordyn Jury and Luke Bolte each split a pair for the Chieftains.
Jury went 7-for-8 from the foul stripe and finished with 13 points. Bolte had 10 points and nine rebounds.
hopewell-loudon (12-5, 6-2 BVC)
Milligan 3-0–8, Bolte 4-2–10, Jury 3-7–13, A. Hoover 1-0–2, Simonis 1-12–15, Coffman 1-0–3, Rumschlag 0-0–0. TOTALS: 17-47 21-26 — 51.
liberty-benton (4-14, 3-6 BVC)
Jenkins 0-0–0, Kotey 1-0–2, Poling 2-0–4, May 8-9–26, Jo. Reindel 3-0–6, Schroeder 0-0–0, Dillon 0-0–0, Abbott 0-0–0, Ja. Reindel 1-0–2, Mattingly 1-0–3. TOTALS: 16-48 9-15 — 43.
Hopewell-Loudon 11 8 15 17 — 51
Liberty-Benton 12 5 14 12 — 43
3-Point GOALS: Hopewell-Loudon 4-14 (Milligan 2, Coffman & Simonis 1); Liberty-Benton 2-18 (May & Mattingly 1).
rebounds: Hopewell-Loudon 38 (Bolte 9); Liberty-Benton 24 (May 11).
turnovers: Hopewell-Loudon 15; Liberty-Benton 6.
junior varsity: Liberty-Benton, 51-39.