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Willard survives battle for seventh straight win

By JOSH MORGRET • Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 11:37 PM

WILLARD — Not only was Willard facing a team it had lost to earlier in the season, the Crimson Flashes had to face unexpected battles throughout the night.

Willard only got about seven minutes from Davon Triplett and also saw another player ejected before the night was over.

But, the Flashes battled through and fought off a Margaretta comeback to top the Polar Bears, 54-47, in Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division action on Friday for their seventh consecutive victory.

"In order to win games, we talked about being resilient," Willard coach Joe Bedingfield said. "I think we had to be resilient a lot. With all the things that happened in the game, we had to be resilient."

Triplett battled foul trouble throughout the night and fouled out just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Myles Pinkston continued his stellar play, pacing Willard (12-3, 6-2) with 18 points and seven rebounds. Cooper Parrott added 12 points while Terry Baldridge hauled in 10 rebounds

"With Davon in foul trouble, other guys stepped up," Bedingfield said. "We talk to the kids all the time about being stars in their roles. If you want to be successful and win this game, you have to be a star in your role."

Triplett picked up his third and fourth fouls less than 20 seconds into the third quarter. The Polar Bears (10-4, 6-3) got within seven points after two free throws by Dylan Morris and a short bucket by Mitch Raifsnider, but Willard responded.

Pinkston scored off of an offensive rebound and later, Parrott's floater, coupled with a bucket from Joey Holida, pushed the Flashes ahead, 31-19, with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

Margaretta continued to take advantage of Triplett not being on the floor. Daltyn Wiedbrauk scored before consecutive buckets by Raifsnider. Then, Dylan Morris hit a 3 on an inbounds play from the right side and suddenly, the Polar Bears were within 32-28.

"I think there is a lot of good things we can learn from here," Margaretta coach Steve Keller said. "Our mentality was completely different in the second half. We were aggressive and we were there to win the ball game."

Willard took a 36-30 lead into the fourth quarter and lost Triplett for the game after an offensive foul. On the other end, Raifsnider also picked up his fourth foul, but the Flashes could not quite cash in.

A pull-up jumper by Parrott pushed the lead to 40-32, but Nick Leibacher and Morris each connected on jumpers to bring Margaretta back within four points.

But that margin was the closest that the Polar Bears would get. Willard extended the lead to six points when Pinkston scored and to eight points after Pinkston and Brevon Polachek each split two free throws.

The lead for the Flashes was 50-42 when Holida made a free throw. He missed the second free throw before it appeared as though Parrott had gathered in a loose ball that had been bounced around to near half-court. With both teams wrestling for the ball, a skirmish ensued and both teams had to be separated.

The officials talked the issue over and eventually ruled a technical foul and ejection for Parrott for a punch thrown, and a technical foul and ejection for Wiedbrauk for a kick. Both players will miss the next two games per OHSAA rules.

"I thought we did a lot of good things in the second half," Keller said. "We scored 36 points in the second half. We just dug ourselves a hole by scoring 11 points in the first half."

Willard came out on fire, taking a 10-2 lead after a three-point play by Pinkston. Morris hit a triple from the right side for the Polar Bears, but a driving layup by Polachek gave the Flashes a 12-5 lead after eight minutes.

The lead blossomed to 19-7 in the second quarter and then to 22-9 when Parrott drilled a 3. The Polar Bears cut into the deficit a bit as Raifsnider hit two free throws just before halftime. Margaretta made 4 of 21 shots in the first half.

"I think we got good looks," Keller said. "We played sped up a little bit. This was a big game."

Polachek added seven points for the Flashes, who made 14 of 24 free throws.

"We talked about if we want to win down the road, we have to become a better half-court defensive team," Bedingfield said. "We challenged them before the game to do that and we challenged them to be more fundamental."

Willard committed just seven turnovers in the game.

"That is a credit to Cooper," Bedingfield said. "I know he had 12 points and Brevon had seven points. Some will say they did not have a good game, but they did a good job of managing the game. We have a goal chart and I think it is at 12 turnovers or less. We passed that goal tonight."

Morris led all scorers with 21 points while Raifsnider added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The win doubles Willard's win total from all of last year. The Flashes went 5-17 in the regular season and finished 6-18 overall.

"Last time if Davon would have been in foul trouble, we did not have as much depth," Bedingfield said. "Joey Holida was hurt and Polachek did not play last game. Those guys helped."


MARGARETTA (10-4, 6-3)

Mitch Raifsnider 4-4—12, Daltyn Wiedbrauk 3-0—6, Dylan Morris 7-5—21, Nick Leibacher 3-0—6, Bryceten Hedden 1-0—2. TOTALS 18-9—47.

WILLARD (12-3, 6-2)

Brevon Polachek 2-2—7, Terry Balridge 1-0—2, Myles Pinkston 6-6—18, Davon Triplett 2-0—4, Cooper Parrott 4-3—12, Micah Dawson 1-0—2, Joey Holida 2-3—7, Jerrett Sowers 1-0—2. TOTALS 19-14—54.

Margaretta 5 6 19 17 — 47

Willard      12 10 14 18 — 54

3-point FGs: (M) Morris 2; (W) Polachek, Parrott

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