Willard proved to be too strong for New London Friday night, as the Flashes rolled to a 52-38 victory over the Wildcats in the Division III sectional final at Lexington High School.
Coach Chris Long’s team improved to 15-8 for the year, and will move on to face Huron, a 66-37 winner over Woodmore, in the opening game of the Ashland University district tournament at 6:15 p.m. Thursday night.
“We preached all week that this was just the 23rd game,’’ Flashes coach Chris Long said. “We wanted to crash the boards tonight and control their dribble penetration. The kids played 32 minutes and gave me everything they had.”
The Flashes doubled up on New London, leading 14-7 at the first break.
Willard then began to pull away in the second stanza, using a 12-2 run over the first half of the period and taking a 26-9 lead on a Carson Ebert 3-pointer with just over four minutes left in the half.
Ebert hit two more triples later in the quarter as the Flashes lead 29-15 at the intermission.
The junior guard had 11 points at halftime, while Connor Robinson and Jay Cok had eight points each to account for 27 of the Willard points.
The third period proved to be more of the same.
Gage Keaton and Robinson hit field goals in the closing seconds, as the Flashes won the scoring battle 14-9, bumping their margin to 43-24.
Willard built its lead to as many as 20 in the final frame before the ‘Cats rallied down the stretch to outscore the Flashes 14-9, and finalize things at 52-38.
As a team, Willard shot 22-of-57 from the floor and 4-of-9 from the line.
Robinson led Willard with 14 points.
Ebert chipped in with 11, Cok 10, and Logan Blanchard seven.
Cok also pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Flashes held a 33-28 rebounding advantage, and turned the ball over just 12 times.
The Wildcats answered with 16-of 41-from the filed, including just 1-of-10 from behind the arc. NL was five of 14 from the charity stripe, and committed 18 miscues.
Senior Cory Haswell paced New London with 13 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Ben Young added 10 points, and Nick Thomas seven.
“We held them to only 52 points, but I would bet half of those were on second chance baskets,’’ New London coach Tom Howell said. “We wanted to slow them down tonight and play a 2-3 zone. I still think the zone worked we just didn’t rebound.”
New London closes its campaign with a mark of 11-12.
Robinson 7-0-14, Moore 2-1-5, Ebert 4-0-11, Blanchard 3-1-7, Cok 4-2-10, Keaton 2-0-5. Totals 22-4-52.
New London 38
Lane 2-0-4, Young 4-2-10, Haswell 6-0-13, Nick Thomas 3-1-7, Nate Thomas 0-2-2, Molnar 1-0-2. Totals 16-5-38
Score by quarter
Willard 14 15 14 9 — 52
N.L. 7 8 9 14 — 38