Fulda holds off MCC to reach 3A South title game
After an action-packed first half that had nine lead exchanges and seven ties, the Fulda Raiders boys basketball team stretched a three-point lead to a 14-point bulge in the first seven minutes of the second half, earning a 68-51 victory over riv...
After an action-packed first half that had nine lead exchanges and seven ties, the Fulda Raiders boys basketball team stretched a three-point lead to a 14-point bulge in the first seven minutes of the second half, earning a 68-51 victory over rival Murray County Central in the Section 3A South semifinals Thursday.
The sixth-seeded Raiders (16-10) advance to Saturday's championship game where they will tangle with top-seeded Ellsworth (24-4) at 6 p.m. in Marshall.
The Fulda surge was keyed by senior all-around athlete John Isder, who scored eight of his game-high 22 points in a 12-4 Raider run over the first 3:04 of the second half.
An Isder 3-pointer jump-started the scoring burst in the opening minute, before his lay-up off one of his five steals put the Raiders up by eight, 43-35, with 16:40 left.
"John really played well tonight," said Fulda head coach Harvey Carroll. "Our whole team executed well and we really had terrific play from David Crowley, Alex Hein and Tom Kuhl off the bench."
It was Crowley who sparked the Raiders in the first half with 10 points, including a pair of long-range 3s and a nifty fastbreak layup off one of Tim Haberman's seven defensive rebounds.
But as well as the Raiders played and executed in the first half, the Rebels countered, sparked by Paul Counter (14) and Derik Johnson (eight) who combined for 22 points. Most of Counter's eight rebounds and nine assists came as MCC effectively ran the floor and went over the top of Fulda for scores several times.
"We were aggressive and patient in the first half," MCC head coach Tim Bobeldyk said. "We tried different things on defense, but Fulda was effective going against either the zone or man-to-man."
A backdoor basket by Crowley on one of Sam Woitalewicz's eight assists put the Raiders up, 25-22, with 6:38 to go in the first half.
Woitalewicz later scored on a well-executed backcut down the lane -- off one of Crowley's three assists -- with six seconds left in the half, making the halftime score, 38-35, in favor of Fulda.
"We took that timeout with 40 seconds left in the half and got that play set up," explained Carroll. "The kids really executed that well and it gave us the last basket and a nice spark going into halftime."
After Isder's second 3-pointer of the second half lifted the Raiders to a 50-39 lead with 14:56 to play -- something rare happened -- neither team scored for nearly two minutes.
Counter scored his only two points of the second half at the 12:58 mark, but Isder's dazzling drive 36 seconds later kept the Fulda lead at 11.
A basket by Kuhl off a loose ball gave the Raiders a 54-41 lead, but the Rebels mounted a comeback over the next four minutes, getting as close as 57-49 when Nate Ellens connected on a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner at the 7:02 mark.
A minute later -- after another timeout by Carroll -- Fulda went into a stretched out "flex" offensive pattern and worked a minute off the clock, before Woitalawicz scored on a pull-up jumper in the lane, giving Fulda a 60-49 lead.
From that point on, the Raiders were sharp as Woitalawicz (13 rebounds, 18 points) twice hit Isder with crisp passes for easy buckets, helping Fulda pull away.
The seventh-seeded Rebels (13-12), who played a solid game to defeat second-seeded Edgerton (52-51) in the quarterfinals, sank 8-of-9 free throws and 17-of-34 2-point attempts, but were only 3-of-18 from 3-point range.
MCC 35 16 -- 51
Fulda 38 30 -- 68
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Ellens 1-0-0-3, Spartz 1-0-0-3, Counter 0-6-4-16, Everson 0-1-0-2, K. Johnson 0-3-0-6, D. Johnson 1-3-4-13, Grimmius 0-3-0-6, Laleman 0-1-0-2. Totals: 3-17-8-51.
FULDA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): J. Isder 3-5-3-22, Crowley 2-2-2-12, Hein 0-3-0-6, Steffen 0-0-1-1, Woitalewicz 2-4-4-18, Drealan 0-2-0-4, Kuhl 0-1-0-2, Haberman 0-0-3-3. Totals: 7-17-13-68.