Survive and advance.
That’s exactly what Norwalk did Friday night by defeating Shelby 54-37 in Division II sectional final action at Bucyrus High School.
The Truckers (23-1) move on to play Clyde (16-7) at 8 p.m. Wednesday in a district semifinal contest at Mansfield Senior High School.
The opening game Wednesday will feature Perkins vs. Lexington.
“Win and move on,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said about Friday’s performance.
“We get to play another day,” the coach added.
Shelby attempted to control the tempo Friday.
“We knew they would be very patient on offense,” Gray said. “I thought, defensively, we were solid. We were locked in.”
“Shelby did what they wanted to do and that was keep it close,” Gray said.
Norwalk led 18-11 after one quarter and 34-26 at the half.
The Truckers scored the first 14 points of the third quarter to end the suspense.
The Whippets didn’t score until the third-period buzzer on a Lucas Bihl triple.
Norwalk only allowed 11 points in the second half.
Senior Jeff Thomas paced the Norwalk attack with 21 points and seven rebounds.
“We knew we had to be patient tonight,” Thomas said, adding defensive pressure and rebounding were also keys.
“Defense wins championships,” Thomas added.
Thomas is enjoying every moment of this season.
“This senior class is awesome,” he said. “We’re so close and having fun playing.”
The Truckers shot 25-of-50 from the floor, which included 2-of-7 triples.
Norwalk made 2-of-3 free throws, collected 23 rebounds and committed just four turnovers.
Senior Grant Hull talked about the challenge of facing Shelby for the third time.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” Hull said about the Whippets’ slow-down tactics.
“Our style is to get up and run,” he said. “They did a good job of being patient.
“I thought tonight we executed well offensively and we’re moving on and that’s all that matters,” Hull said.
Hull added nine points, while classmate Ben Haraway scored eight as did Jordan Johnson.
Norwalk outscored the Whippets 20-11 in the final two periods.
Senior Tristan Kehres netted 16 points to lead Shelby.
The Whippets hit 13-of-30 from the field, including 2-of-9 three-pointers.
Shelby made 9-of-11 free throws, had 15 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
In Friday’s first game at Bucyrus, Lexington topped Ontario, 56-49.
Ontario finished its season at 21-2, while Lexington improved to 16-8.
Lexington will face a Perkins team that defeated Sandusky 76-32 in Division II sectional-final action at Willard.
Gray said the Truckers will turn their focus to Clyde.
“I don’t know much about them now, but we’ll study them for the next three days,” he said. “I know Derek Gray is an outstanding player and coach (Ryan) Carter always has some tricks up his sleeve.”
Thomas 10-0-21, Hull 3-2-9, Haraway 4-0-8, Turner 1-0-2, Johnson 4-0-8, Cashen 1-0-2, Davidson 1-0-2, Jordan 1-0-2. Totals 25-2-54.
Hipp 1-0-3, Tristan Kehres 6-4-16, Schneider 1-0-2, Bihl 3-0-7, Cox 2-2-6, Brock Kehres 0-3-3. Totals 13-9-37.
Score by quarter
Norwalk 18 16 14 6 — 54
Shelby 11 15 3 8 — 37