SANDUSKY - Norwalk started strong, but couldn't maintain the momentum and dropped a 58-49 decision to Clyde Wednesday in a Division II sectional tournament game at Sandusky High School.
The Truckers closed the season at 11-10.
Seniors Jacob Willis and Clay Duncan played in their final basketball game for Norwalk.
"We're going to miss Jacob and Clay," Truckers coach Steve Gray said. "Not only are they good players, but they're good people and anytime you lose good people, it hurts your program. The juniors have unlimited potential and have a chance to be very good next year, but it depends on what happens between now and December."
Trailing 14-12 after the first quarter, Clyde started the second with eight straight points to take a 20-14 advantage, one in which it didn't relinquish.
The Fliers led 27-22 at halftime. A Kyle Kurtz bucket brought the deficit to 27-24, but the Fliers held a 39-35 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
Norwalk cut the deficit to two points two different times in the fourth.
From there, though, free-throw shooting proved to be a big difference. Josh Bender, Alex Gillett, Nick Beebe and Logan Tea combined for 10 charity tosses in the final 2:08 as the Fliers pulled away.
"Congratulations to Clyde," Gray said. "I thought they executed well and we didn't play up to our ability."
Smith paced the Truckers with 15 points, including 13 in the second half. Kurtz dropped in 11 points and Duncan netted nine, including a three-point basket.
"I thought he was better later on," Gray said of Smith.
Fliers coach Ryan Carter said Blayze Behney did a good job defensively on Smith, especially in the first half.
"We wanted to limit his touches," Carter said. "He played against a 7-footer and not just a 7-footer, but a good 7-footer and just battled. That was one of the keys to our victory."
The problem for the Truckers was too much Josh Bender and Alex Gillett to contend with.
Bender, a 6-foot-3 senior, netted 24 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Gillett, a 6-0 sophomore, added 13 points and converted six free throws in the final eight minutes.
"I thought Bender was outstanding," Gray said. "We had no answer for him defensively. In the tournament when you don't have a sense of urgency, these things can happen. These kids had to find that out."
Carter commented on both Bender and Gillett.
"Josh showed a tremendous amount of guts and heart," Carter said. "He came out and worked his tail off and Alex, I think we're talking about a pretty special kid. Our kids battled and that's what we ask of them."
For the game, Norwalk went 22-of-58 (38 percent) from the field and 4-of-6 (67 percent) from the line with 28 rebounds and 12 turnovers. Smith notched a double-double with 14 rebounds. Kurtz picked off seven boards.
The Fliers countered with numbers of 19-of-42 (45 percent) and 18-of-34 (53 percent) to go with 24 boards and 10 miscues.
Clyde, which improved to 11-10 overall, is scheduled to play Tiffin Columbian in the second sectional final game Friday at Sandusky High School. The Tornadoes, using a 16-8 advantage in overtime, downed Bellevue 67-59 in the first sectional game Wednesday.
The Fliers also avenged a 51-49 regular-season loss to the Truckers.
Cook 2-2-6, Beebe 0-1-1, Stein 1-0-2, Tea 2-1-6, Bender 9-6-24, Gillett 2-9-13, Behney 3-0-6. Totals: 19-18-58.
Kurtz 5-1-11, Clark 4-0-8, Krebs 1-0-2, Duncan 4-0-9, Willis 1-0-2, Heckelman 1-0-2, Kyle Smith 6-3-15. Totals: 22-4-49.
Clyde 12- 15 -12- 19-- 58
Norwalk 14- 8- 13- 14-- 49