It's as simple as putting the ball in the basket.
A team can play great defense, run proper sets and have solid scouting reports, but a simple bottom line in the game of basketball is to score points.
The St. Paul boys basketball team held Buckeye Central 20 points below its season average in Tuesday's Division IV district semifinal at Willard High School. However, the Flyers shot just 7-of-39 from the field and scored eight points in the second half in a 46-21 season-ending loss.
Buckeye Central (22-2) advances to face St. Mary Central Catholic (19-6) in Friday's championship game, while St. Paul concludes the season with a 10-14 record.
"The kids did everything we asked. They've studied them (Buckeye Central) and did a great job of preparing," St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. "But you can only grind so long. As we started to lose our focus and not score, it put a great big bubble over that.
"You just kind of deflate," he added. "If we could have hit a few shots early — we got some good looks, but just didn't knock them down."
Trailing 6-0 less than three minutes into the game, back-to-back scores by Bob Harwood made it 6-4, and the Flyers trailed just 10-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Bucks then went up 17-10 and appeared on the verge of pulling away, but a Sam Carper free throw and another basket by Harwood trimmed the deficit to 17-13 with 3:38 left in the first half.
But unfortunately, that was as good as it got.
The Bucks closed the half with a 7-0 scoring surge to take a 24-13 lead at the break, and scored the first nine points of the second half to open up a 33-13 lead at the4:12 mark of the third quarter. St. Paul did not score a field goal in the third quarter until 1:48 remained — another basket by Harwood.
The Flyers had just two field goals in the second half.
"Obviously our Achilles' heel all year has been the ability to score," Smith said. "I think our kids did a great job of taking away things we wanted to with them. They are in explosive team in transition, and I thought we did a really good job there. We guarded their shooters tough and rebounded very well in the first half."
But all of that can only do so much.
"The problem is, you can only beat your head so hard on the defensive end if you can't put the ball in the basket," Smith said. "It's just hard to be able to do that. But they are a very solid team that is 22-2 for a reason. A big part of our struggles was how good they were defensively."
Harwood finished with eight points and six rebounds in the final game of his career, while no other player had more than one field goal for the Flyers. Scottie Slauterbeck, Steven Farmer and Travis Smiley also played their final games at St. Paul.
"They led us, and we're going to miss those four kids," Smith said. "We'll get back to work ... we've got a lot of young kids who got a lot of experience this year and our JVs and freshmen were pretty successful. Hopefully we can turn the corner here."