By LOGAN SEWELL
After scheming game plans last year as head coach at Franklin to try to shut down Monroe's Tyler Osterman, first year Hornet head coach Denny Ferguson now enjoys scheming game plans to get Osterman the ball in scoring situations.
"He's versatile; when you get a young guy who can shoot outside you got to attack him," coach Ferguson said Friday night after the Hornets won the Brian Cook Classic. "But he can also go to the hole with it and draw fouls and he does a great job of that, so it's hard to guard a guy that can do both!"
Against Ridgeville Christian, Osterman "only" scored 27 points, a day after breaking the school record for most points in a single game with 50 in the win over Milton Union.
"Today they tried to shut me down and I got everybody in the game," said Osterman. For his performance, Osterman was the unanimous choice for MVP of the tournament.
The championship game did have a strange opening when a Monroe player was charged for a technical foul after he dunked the ball during warm-ups. The Lions were only able to make one out of the two free throws for the technical. Perhaps inspired, Monroe jumped out to a 7-1 lead with Hornet sophomore Jared Ferguson scoring 5 of the 7 points.
But Ridgeville Christian kept it close and only trailed by four points, 19-15, after a quarter of play. In the second quarter it was the Ferguson - Osterman show as both sophomores lit up the Lions defense in helping lead Monroe to a halftime score of 44-26, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively.
After trailing by double figures for all of the third quarter, Ridgeville Christian finally made it a game pulling within 57-49 with 7:10 still left to play in the fourth quarter. The Lions were staring at a deficit of five points at 60-55 after Ridgeville Christian senior Jesse Viars canned both free throws of a shooting foul. But the Hornets slowly stretched the lead back out to double digits in winning the tourney 82-69, for the second time.
"I'm excited for the kids, I think the kids came out tonight and played hard from the get - go," coach Ferguson said, pleased after the Hornets almost blew a 34-point lead Thursday night. "First quarter on, I thought they played with intensity, they played hard, they pushed the ball like we wanted to. It's not until we get a lead before our kids decide to slow up a bit; we're still learning. I think they did a great job!"
Joining Osterman on the all - tournament team for the Hornets was senior Michael Majors after he chipped in 17 points against the Lions, averaging 13.5 points in the two-game classic.
Ferguson scored a season-high 22 points to take pressure off Osterman. Viars and sophomore Stephen Buchanan represented the Lions on the all - tourney team after Viars scored a team-high 25 points, after scoring 23 points the day before in the victory over Madison. Buchanan scored 13 points in the losing effort while Lions teammate junior Danny Conaway contributed 16 points.
Monroe with the win is now 4-1 while Ridgeville Christian falls to 5-2.
The Mohawks behind the sharp -shooting of Nathanael Harney and his 11 points got off to a solid start in leading 13-9 after a quarter of play in the consolation game. Milton Union still had no answer for him in the second quarter as Harney continued to terrorize the Bulldog defense with 18 points and six rebounds at halftime, as the Mohawks enjoyed a 24-20 lead at intermission.
The Mohawks were riding Harney for a lead of eight points at 41-33 going into the final quarter of play. But behind the strong performances of Kenny Battiston and Kurt Kroplin, Milton Unionagain played a strong fourth quarter and pulled out the victory at 53-49 for the third-place trophy.
Battiston finished the game with 21 points while teammate Kroplin added 10 points.
Harney had 28 points to lead all scorers in both games while Mohawks teammate senior Kyle Arend contributed 10 points in the losing effort. For his performance in the consolation game, Harney made the all - tourney team for Madison while Mitchell Evans and Battiston represented the Bulldogs on the all - tournament team. With the loss Madison falls to 4-3 on the season while Milton Union improves to 3-4.