March 2, 2013

Red-hot Warriors down Hawks, advance to sectional final

By Val Tsoutsouris
Rochester Sentinel

WINAMAC — Adam Gruenig hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points, and Zach Shidler added 13 as the Winamac boys basketball team picked apart Hebron’s defense en route to a 74-56 win in a Class 2A, Sectional 34 semifinal Friday.

The Warriors hit 10 more treys after hitting 11 against North Judson in a quarterfinal win Tuesday. Winamac has hit 32 3-pointers in their last three games dating back to the regular season finale against Rensselaer. The 74 points were a season high, besting the 73 against North Judson on Tuesday.

Still, Winamac coach Kyle Johnson wanted to praise more than just the shooting.

“I thought the difference in the game was probably rebounding,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of the effort.”

Tony Rose had 25 points, and Spencercsheets had for the Hawks, who finished 9-11.

Hebron coach John Steinhilber was impressed by Winamac’s shooting.

“In the end, we couldn’t have them miss enough shots,” Steinhilber said.

This was the first Hebron-Winamac game since the Warriors won a regular season game 66-60 at Hebron in January 2002.

Coincidentally, that was also the last year Winamac won a sectional title. The Warriors can break their 11-year drought if they can beat Boone Grove in the final at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Nine different Winamac players scored. J.T. Garnett hit three treys and scored nine. Evan Rose and Parker Fox had eight apiece, and freshman Derek Dotlich added seven.

“They did a really good of making the extra pass and found the open guy,” Johnson said of his players. “They knew they were shooters, but making that extra pass for us is a big deal and not forcing the issue. And when we get the ball moving and we’re unselfish, it gives lots of people the opportunity to score.”

“It’s just amazing,” Evan Rose said of the shooting. “I’m just so happy for my teammates. ... I can’t wait for tomorrow night.”

Johnson also praised four-year point guard Shidler.

“I don’t think Zach scored as well as he can, but he led,” Johnson said. “He led, and he balanced everybody.”

Said Steinhilber of Shidler: “When he’s playing as well as he is, he finds the open guy.”

Boone Grove handled Rochester 59-39 in the night’s second semifinal, breaking the game open in the second half after trailing 22-21 at halftime.

The big man duo of Jake Clapp and Jon Hogg scored 17 apiece to lead Boone Grove (13-8). Luke Cannedy led the Zebras (7-15) with 12.

“I know one thing,” Boone Grove coach Matt McKay said of Winamac. “I’d like to play on a neutral court because they shoot the ball extremely well in this place.”