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Firth's fears realized as Rebels struggle without injured Henry
, Courier Sportswriter
Monday, February 04, 2013 10:00 AM
ROUGH NIGHT: Southwestern coach Andy Firth reacts during a play (above) as his team struggles in Saturday’s loss at South Ripley. The Raiders’ Cody Federmann blocks Darius Whitson-Spegal’s drive to the basket (below). Federmann was called for a foul on the play but made his presence felt in South Ripley’s 49-32 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
VERSAILLES - Southwestern coach Andy Firth was worried about how his team would respond one day after losing its leading scorer to injury. As it turns out, he had every reason to be.
The Rebels shot less than 20 percent from the floor, were out-rebounded by more than a 2-to-1 margin and were never in the game in falling at South Ripley 49-32 on Saturday.
The game came roughly 24 hours after Southwestern lost senior Gunnar Henry to a knee injury in Friday's win over Scottsburg. The best-case scenario is that Henry will be out three to four weeks but the high-scoring guard, who was averaging nearly 18 points per game, will probably not be back.
With the injury as a backdrop, the Rebels struggled in every facet of the game against the Ohio River Valley Conference leaders. Southwestern trailed 17-5 after the first quarter and 28-12 at halftime and seemed powerless against the Raiders.
"I was worried about this game. When I saw the snow this morning I lobbied (athletic director) Tom (Scroggins) to call the game," Firth joked. "If we had a couple of days to recover from Gunnar's injury maybe we would have been all right. But it was hard turning right around and playing."
While the final margin was just 17 points, the game was never truly that close. Southwestern hit only 4-of-21 (19 percent) from the floor in the first half and improved only slightly in the second, going 4-for-20 for a total of 19.5 percent.
Part of Southwestern's problem was the immense size difference that South Ripley had over the smaller Rebels. Even though 6-foot-7 center Cody Federmann was hampered by an ankle injury suffered in practice, the senior still had enough left to score seven points and grab four rebounds.
Federmann's replacement in the starting lineup. 6-foot-4 Logan Linkmeyer, had six rebounds. Six-foot-four Austin Halcomb also had six rebounds.
The Raiders (12-4, 4-0 ORVC) so dominated the inside that they had nearly as many offensive rebounds (13) as Southwestern had total (19). The 42 boards overall allowed Ripley to hold a 30-10 advantage in points in the paint.
South Ripley's guards took advantage of that rebounding edge to lead the Raiders in scoring. Joe Dicken hit three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 15 points while Trey Sparks scored 10. As a team, Ripley shot 46.7 percent (21-for-45) from the floor.
"We just couldn't put the ball in the hoop," Firth said. "We would try to make a run and we would lose some air because we couldn't hit a shot. It was frustrating."
Southwestern (5-12, 1-4 ORVC) managed just two points in the third quarter and entered the fourth trailing 41-14. For much of the final quarter it appeared that the Rebels had a shot at breaking the school-record for fewest points scored in a game - a mark of 21 set in a loss to Brownstown in 2004.
Mackenzey Withered hit a 3-pointer with 3:14 left in the game to get Southwestern to the 20-point mark and Zach Brooks' layup with 1:55 left pushed the Rebels past the record for futility.
Brooks added two more free throws and another layup over the next 50 seconds to pull Southwestern to 49-26 when the game suddenly turned bizarre.
With South Ripley leading by 23 and just 40 seconds left in the game, the Raiders' Chase Samples drove to the basket and was whistled for an offensive foul.
South Ripley coach Travis Wrightsman jumped out of his chair and immediately began arguing with the referee about the call. Before long, Wrightsman was hit with a technical foul for his protests.
But the Raider coach wasn't through. While the officials were discussing the call, Wrightsman loudly informed the refs that they would "never work here again" which prompted a second technical and an automatic ejection. As the coach was leaving the floor, he began clapping his hands and was instantly whistled for a third technical.
Southwestern's Michael Perry hit all six of the free-throw attempts for the final margin but Withered's 3-point attempt on the ensuing possession just rimmed out for what could have been a nine-point possession.
Firth said that he had no idea what prompted Wrightsman's outburst.
"It was just a weird game all around. I have no idea what happened," Firth said. "I'm not even sure what he said."
Southwestern returns to action Saturday at Christian Academy.
Saturday's Boys Game
SOUTH RIPLEY 49, SOUTHWESTERN 32
SOUTHWESTERN 5 7 2 18 - 32
SOUTH RIPLEY 17 11 13 8 - 49
SOUTHWESTERN (5-12, 1-4 ORVC) - Perry 6, Brooks 6, (g)Withered 5, (f)Embs 5, (f)Whitson-Spegal 5, (c)Wyne 5, (g)Westerfield 0, Hartman 0.
SOUTH RIPLEY (12-4, 4-0 ORVC) - (g)Dicken 15, (g)Sparks 10, Federmann 7, Huntington 6, (f)Halcomb 4, Grider 2, Samples 2, (c)Linkmeyer 2, (f)Mullins 1, Wilson 0, Tankersley 0.
3-Point Goals - Southwestern 3 (Withered 1, Whitson-Spegal 1, Wyne 1), South Ripley 3 (Dicken 3). Rebounds - Southwestern 19 (Withered 5, Embs 5, Wyne 5), South Ripley 42 (Mullins 6, Linkmeyer 6, Halcomb 6). Assists - Southwestern 5 (Perry 5), South Ripley 14 (Sparks 5). Turnovers - Southwestern 12, South Ripley 16. Total Fouls - Southwestern 3, South Ripley 15. Free Throws - Southwestern 13-15, South Ripley 4-8. Fouled Out - None. Technical Fouls - South Ripley: Coach Wrightsman (2), bench. Ejected - South Ripley: Coach Wrightsman. Next Game - Southwestern visits Christian Academy Saturday. South Ripley visits South Dearborn Thursday.
PHOTOS: Firth’s fears realized as Rebels struggle without injured Henry
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