Elder’s Ryan Custer reacts during the Panthers’ basketball game against Lakota East, Friday, March 6, 2015.
Elder’s now two-for-two this postseason. The Panthers completed the comeback and beat Lakota East 57-46 in a Division I sectional final Friday night at Xavier’s Cintas Center in front of a packed house.
Elder (22-2) had a lackluster first half – Lakota East (23-3) had a lot to do with that – but the Panthers made up their minds in the locker room at halftime that they would go down swingin’.
Elder outscored the Thunderhawks 18-6 in the third quarter, after trailing 29-23 at the half. The second half spark was equal parts defense and timely shooting. Elder opened its scoring onslaught in the third when junior Peyton Ramsey buried a three, then Lakota East turned the ball over and senior Brad Miller fired another three; that was all Elder really needed to start rolling in the right direction.
“We said (at halftime) on defense we weren’t getting hurt too much with ball screens but we were getting posted up a fair amount; offensively we were just a little stagnant, we weren’t moving ourselves and we weren’t moving the ball very much,” said Elder coach Joe Schoenfeld. “I thought we did a much better job in the second half. I thought we settled down and actually moved more intelligently in the second half.”
Schoenfeld pointed out – even though it was obvious to those in attendance – “Frankie Hofmeyer got hot in the second half.” The junior guard had his shot going and his confidence followed suit.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Hofmeyer said. “Going into the third quarter down six we hit some shots, got a big lead and we kept it. Once you get a couple shots going you get some confidence.”
Hofmeyer finished with a game-high 18 points (10 in the second half) and four steals. Ramsey finished with 10 points and led the Panthers in rebounding with six. Miller also finished with 10 points.
In the second half, Elder held Lakota East, ranked No. 3 in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ final poll, to 35 percent shooting. Conversely, the No. 5 Panthers shot 64.7 percent from the field.
Lakota East had a distinct size advantage in seniors Mitchell Mays and Alex White, both listed at 6-foot-7. To help out inside, Schoenfeld went to his bench and brought in 6-foot-5 junior Tommy Kraemer, better known as Ramsey’s protector on the offensive line.
“Tommy Kraemer came off the bench and gave us some real good minutes of defense and screening,” Schoenfeld said.
White finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Dylan Lowry and Adam Dieball each had a team-high 11 points for East.
“We don’t think about size, we’re more of a scrappy team; that’s how Elder basketball plays and we’re gonna keep that going,” Hofmeyer said.
Elder’s scrappiness reared its head in the fourth with around 2:30 left in the game, the Panthers had a 44-41 lead and the Thunderhawks had turned up the pressure. Elder senior Mitch Moorhead hit a step-back corner three that forced the purple sections onto their feet. After that, in the final two minutes, Elder had a pair of huge steals, then the Panthers made their free throws (6 for 8) in the closing minutes.
Elder did have to play through some nerves, Schoenfeld thought.
“I think we were a little nervous at the start of the game in a big arena against a very good team, a well-coached team,” said Schoenfeld. “We just had to move ourselves, move the ball and the kids started falling into a comfort zone. We started getting open looks and great hustle plays, great Elder plays. Everybody fed off each other.”
Elder will face the winner of Saturday’s Centerville-Xenia game next weekend at UD Arena.
Lakota East (23-3) – Bates 2 4 9, Dieball 4 1 11, Emrick 2 0 4, Lowry 5 1 11, Mays 0 1 1, White 4 2 10. Totals: 17 9 46.
Elder (22-2) – Orloff 1 6 8, Ramsey 4 1 10, Hofmeyer 7 0 18, Miller 4 1 10, Custer 1 0 3, Moorhead 2 1 6, Kraemer 1 0 2. Totals: 20 9 57.
Halftime: Lakota East 29-23. 3-pointers: L 3 (Bates, Dieball 2); E 8 (Ramsey, Hofmeyer 4, Miller, Custer, Moorhead).