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Tide turns, Tigers surge into sectional final

WL-Salem ends game on 44-12 run to rout Waynesville

WLSWaynesville

West Liberty Salem’s Landon Hormann drives to the basket between Waynesville’s Troy Black, front, and Mitch Gossard during Tuesday’s sectional tournament game at Tecumseh High School. (EXAMINER PHOTO I MATT HAMMOND)

NEW CARLISLE — West Liberty-Salem looked like it was on the verge of being blown out early in the second half here Tuesday.

In a stunning turn of events, the Tigers came alive to come out a lopside winner in a boys tournament basketball game against Waynesville.

Trailing by nine points in the first minute of the third quarter, WL-Salem finished the game on a 44-12 run to blitz the Spartans 67-44 in a Division III sectional semifinal at Tecumseh High School.

WL-Salem (19-5) advances to play Anna in the sectional final at 6 p.m. Friday at the University of Dayton Arena.

“It is great to have four seniors to count on,” said WL-Salem head coach Aaron Hollar. “Nobody was panicking at halftime. There was no finger pointing. We knew we just had to come out and play better in the second half.

“It wasn’t a magical formula. We just had to stick to the game plan. We did that, and we ended up being 30 points better than they were in the second half.”

Senior forward Landon Hormann has been the Tigers’ go-to player all season. With his team struggling in the first half Tuesday, Hormann grabbed the reins and sparked the second-half explosion.

Hormann scored 22 of his game-high 27 points after halftime. He also pulled down 15 rebounds.

“I think we realized that this would be it for our seniors if we didn’t pick it up,” said Hormann. “We didn’t want our careers to end that way. We just had to play tougher. We were too soft in the first half.”

The win epitomized the journey the Tigers’ senior class has been on during their four years.

During their first three seasons, the Tigers had a combined record of 25-38.

“We really didn’t know what winning felt like,” said Hormann. “Once we started to win games this season, we began believing in ourselves. We believe in ourselves now and that is the most important quality you can have.”

WL-Salem struggled with Waynesville’s aggressive defensive play in the first half. Turnovers were a major issue as the Tigers fell down 15-9 after one quarter and 30-23 at halftime.

“The biggest thing for us is we had to clean up our turnovers,” said Hollar. “We were giving them easy baskets in the first half.”

The Spartans’ Ty Black scored on a layup at the start of the third quarter to put the Tigers down nine.

Then the Tigers came off the canvas with a potent flurry of blows to stun their opponent.

WL-Salem got hot from the outside — hitting three three-pointers — and Hormann began to have his way down low as the Tigers closed the period on a 21-5 spurt to lead 44-37.

“Landon has a lot of confidence in himself and the other guys have confidence in him, too,” said Hollar. “We were able to hit some threes and that opened up some things inside.”

The Tigers’ offensive explosion carried over into the fourth quarter. WL-Salem blew the game open by outscoring the Spartans 23-7 over the final eight minutes.

For the game, WL-Salem shot 57 percent from the field and 83 percent (19-of-23) at the foul line.

While the offense was clicking in the second half, the Tigers’ defense was stellar as well.

The Tigers held standout guard Brian Behymer scoreless in the second half after he scored 10 first-half points.

“We went to a man-to-man defense, with Grant Burden primarily being responsible for Behymer,” said Hollar. “Grant is so disruptive. He doesn’t give you an inch.”

Hormann had a lot of help from his supporting cast. Grant Burden and Ben Burden each had nine points, Max Bailey scored eight and Travis Mayse added seven.

Ty Black led the Spartans with 12 points.

The Tigers will now play Anna for the second time this season. WL-Salem won the regular-season contest 53-50.

The Rockets advanced Tuesday with a 71-46 rout of Miami East.

WL-SALEM 67, WAYNESVILLE 44

WL-SALEM (19-5)

Bailey 3 0-2 8; Mayse 3 0-0 7; B. Burden 3 1-1 9; Woods 1 0-0 3; G. Burden 2 4-4 9; Hormann 6 14-16 27; Bruns 1 0-0 2; Merrick 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 19-23 67.

WAYNESVILLE (14-8)

Behymer 4 1-3 10; Stillwell 1 1-2 3; Audia 2 1-2 5; Ty Black 6 0-2 12; Tr. Black 4 0-0 9; Creditt 1 0-0 3; Gossard 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 3-9 44.

Tigers    9    14    21    23      —     67

Spartans    15    15    7    7    —    44

Three pointers: WL-Salem 8 (Bailey 2, B. Burden 2, G. Burden, Mayse, Hormann, Woods); Waynesville 3 (Behymer, Tr. Black, Creditt). Rebounds: WL-Salem 37 (Hormann 15). Team fouls: WL-Salem 14; Waynesville 17.

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