The Huron boys basketball team saved one of its best performances of the year at the best time of the season.
The Tigers used constant defensive pressure and a strong perimeter shooting game to handle Colonel Crawford 51-32 in a Division III district championship game at Ashland University’s Kates Gymnasium.
With the win, Huron (18-6) advances to the Bowling Green State University regional semifinal for the second straight season. The Tigers will face defending state champion Ottawa-Glandorf (15-10) at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The Titans edged Paulding (36-32) to advance.
“It was a great team effort,” Huron coach Bobby James said. “That may be the best game we’ve played all year, I couldn’t ask for anything better. “Back-to-back trips to the regionals … it will be so much fun to go back to Bowling Green.”
The Tigers did not allow an offensive rebound from Colonel Crawford until the third quarter, and did not commit a single turnover in the second half.
That allowed the Tigers to build a 22-14 advantage at the half. Huron trailed 6-5 midway through the opening quarter, but went on a 7-0 scoring run to go up 11-5 at the 1:56 mark of the first.
The lead grew to 16-8 at the end of the first as Keegan Bollenbacher was able to connect on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Tigers momentum to begin the second. Bollenbacher then began the second quarter with yet another 3-pointer, which made it a 19-8 lead and the Tigers were off and running with five minutes left in the half.
But after the Eagles countered with three points, neither team scored for nearly four minutes of game action, then Bollenbacher was fouled taking the final shot of the half and split the free throws for the 22-14 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Huron caught fire from the perimeter, and outscored the Eagles (19-6) 15-7 in the eight-minute frame to take a commanding 37-21 lead into the game’s final eight minutes.
Adam Storer hit a pair of 3-pointers to ignite the Tigers in the third, and a driving layup by Cody Thompson sent Crawford coach Dave Sheldon into a timeout and his team down 32-18 with 4:30 left in the third.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by the Eagles cut the deficit to 44-32 with 2:58 left, but the Tigers were able to put the game away and secure the return Sweet 16 trip, where they fell to Bloom-Carroll a year ago, 62-54.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Thompson said. “Crawford is a tough team, and we really got after it tonight.”
The Tigers committed four total turnovers to the Eagles' 13, and won the rebounding battle 24-22. Huron shot 21-of-42 (50 percent) from the field for the game, while Crawford managed just 11-of-33 (33 percent).
Thompson finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Zach Souter had 12 points and six rebounds. Keegan Bollenbacher and Adam Storer each scored 11 points in the win.
Nate Klingenberger led the Eagles with 12 points, while teammate Connor McCreary scored 11 points. McCreary entered the game averaging 19 points per game, and teammate Todd Entemann averaged 16 per game, but was limited to six points.