Devils ‘Hold On’ For 33-28 Victory Over Hundred Hornets
St. Marys cashed in on 6-8 charity tosses, while Hundred didn’t attempt any. The Devils held on to the ball for the entire second period, with neither team scoring as the St. Mary Blue Devils held on for a 33-28 Regional Championship March 13 in the Devils Den.
St. Marys won the opening tip in the jam-packed Blue Devils’ gymnasium, but Hundred’s Zach Phillips picked off a pass and the Hornets were in business. However, a Dalton Kuhn shot went in and out while Corey Kimble picked up the first foul of the game and St. Marys cashed in on both for the game’s first points.
After the score, Kimble went the distance and knotted the game at two on a driving layup. Both St. Marys and the Hornets missed baskets on their next two trips, but the Devils connected on a 15 footer to pull ahead 4-2.
St. Marys scored the next two baskets, but back-to-back three point goals by Phillips and Kimble knotted the game at eight.
The Devils held for the last shot and connected on a three to give them an 11-8 edge after one period of play.
The Blue Devils had two starters with two fouls each and decided that a three point advantage was good enough to go into the second half with and decided to hold the ball until 9.6 seconds to go in the first half.
The Hundred crowd was chanting “We want a refund” and the Devil crowd was chanting back “Man Up”, meaning for Hundred to go away from their zone and change their defense to a man-to-man. However, Hornet Head Coach Justin Balwanz wasn’t born yesterday and waited it out.
The Devils took a last second shot that was off its mark and the two teams went into the locker room with the same score that ended the first quarter, 11-8.
The second half was much better as the Blue Devils started to play basketball and made their first attempt.
However, Hundred’s Emery Smith netted a basket in the paint to catch up. The Devils then struck quickly on a two pointer, but the Hornet’s Logan McDiffitt and Dalton Kuhn each drilled a basket from well beyond the arc, and McDiffitt followed up with another one to give the Hornets a 19-17 lead at the 5:45 mark of the third period.
That forced St. Marys into a time out.
The Blue Devils scored the last seven points in the third period that gave them a 25-19 lead with 6:30 left in regulation.
Kimble stopped the Devil rally when he drilled a basket from beyond the arc. Hundred closed the gap a bit on a jumper by McDiffitt, but back-to-back baskets by the Devils pushed their lead back to 29-24 with a little over three minutes left in regulation.
Hundred fought hard and made some noise, but wouldn’t get any closer than three points, even after another bucket by McDiffitt with 20 ticks left in the game.
The Hornets still had their chances, but couldn’t take advantage of several Devil front end misses from the charity line. They also turned the ball over several times.
Hundred gave it their best and left everything on the floor. The Hornets didn’t have anything to be ashamed about and their fans – that included people from Valley, Tyler, Paden City, and Magnolia – gave the courageous team a standing ovation as the players headed to the locker room for the last time.
McDiffitt and Kimble paced the Hornets with 10 points each, including a pair of baskets from beyond the arc. Phillips and Dalton Kuhn each netted a triple, while Smith tallied two.
The difference was at the line, where St. Marys made 6-8, while Hundred didn’t earn a trip to the line.
“I think that we came out with a good focus,” said Balwanz. “We did a good job attacking off the dribble and got them into foul trouble early. They were concerned about the athleticism of our team. I think anyone who has seen us play on a consistent basis knows that we are capable of playing with anyone in the state.
“St. Marys has been a top 10 team all season, so I think it shows they are the type of team we have here at Hundred. I really feel for our only senior, Corey Kimble, but he has had a great high school career. He has been the catalyst to this team for both seasons I have coached here, playing through sickness and injury, showing what type of person and leader he is.
“I told them after the game, this loss hurts bad, but for only a short time. And always remember that the memories of our journey will last a lifetime.”
Balwanz continued, “I want to thank the entire surrounding communities for their support especially the Valley students and staff. They have cheered us on the entire way.”Hundred will say goodbye to Kimble, who will graduate this year. He had a stellar career at Hundred, leading the team in scoring the last couple of years with more than 1,000 points.
However, the Hornets will have the rest of the team back next season, including McDiffitt, Smith, Phillips, and twins Dalton and Shane Kuhn. Other Hornets returning include, Tyrell Watson, Turner Bragg, Thomas Preston, Jonathan St. John, Christopher Shackleford, Nickolas Phillips, Randy Moore, and Brady Knootz.