By Garth Shanklin
The Williamsburg and Clermont Northeastern boys’ basketball teams opened conference play with a back-and-forth affair that ended with the Wildcats leaving Owensville victorious.
Williamsburg held an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, but by the 2:57 mark of the second period, CNE led by nine.
The Wildcats answered, out-scoring CNE by eight the rest of the period to pull within three at 27-24 at halftime.
Jacob Wells scored four quick points in the third quarter for Williamsburg, forcing CNE to call a timeout. The Williamsburg lead grew by one, to 34-32 at the 3:09 mark of the third quarter.
The Wildcats led by six at the end of the third, 43-37.
The lead stayed in the six-point range for most of the fourth quarter, until Clermont Northeastern began fouling toward the end of the period. Williamsburg had a 10-point lead until Chris Coleman connected on a three-pointer, cutting the deficit to 58-51.
The end of the game was a tad confusing. Williamsburg’s Nate Bogan missed a free-throw, but before he could take his second attempt, he was pulled from the line. Trent Kreimer was given two free-throw chances for Williamsburg, as the referees assigned the wrong shooter after the foul. Kreimer hit both free-throws, providing the final score of 60-51.
Kreimer finished the game with 11 points, as did Wells. Bogan scored 13 points, with Landen Ridener adding 16 for the Wildcats. Coleman led CNE with 18 points, just six of which came after halftime. Grant Fishback added 15 for the Rockets.
Williamsburg head coach Dan McKibben said the team stepped up when they needed to to win the game.
“We made some plays when we had to,” McKibben said. “We didn’t get in quite as bad of foul trouble in the second half. We have some pretty good players, they made some shots. We were able to get a few stops on defense and we were able to pull out a win on the road.”
Clermont Northeastern head coach Jim Jones said the team’s offense shifted drastically in the second half from a slashing attack to one focused on outside shooting, which didn’t help the team score.
“They went a little 2-3 on us, and we just quit moving the ball,” Jones said. “We were settling for threes, we shot way too many threes. We quit taking the ball to the hole on them. That took us out of our whole rhythm on offense.”
Turnovers, particularly in the first half, were also problems for CNE throughout the game.
“We didn’t do as good a job taking care of the ball as we did last week,” Jones said. “I think we probably had 10 turnovers in the first half tonight. We were a little helter-skelter, I think they may have been a little too amped for the game coming out.”
The Wildcats weren’t perfect either, according to McKibben.
“We could talk for half an hour about all the things we did wrong tonight, but in the end we got our first league win, on the road, when we didn’t play very well,” McKibben said. “We’ll take a look at the film, see what we can improve and we’ll learn from this. We have a young team, even though we have some returning players, with no seniors and two freshman playing a lot of minutes, it’s about learning and getting better from there.”
The youth, combined with the first-half foul trouble, is why the Wildcats had trouble getting their offense going at times in the first two quarters. McKibben said the team adjusted at halftime.
“We had some people playing that normally don’t play a whole lot, so they got a little rattled by the pressure,” McKibben said. “They didn’t do as good a job meeting passes and coming to the ball. In the second half, we took a deep breath, calmed down and took care of the ball a little better.”
Jones said the team’s effort was where he wanted it to be, but they needed to do a better job coming out of the halftime break fired up and ready to play.
“We played our butts off,” Jones said. “We competed the entire game, we played hard the entire game, and that’s all I can ask for in that situation. At the same time, I told them at halftime that we have to match their intensity and we have to come out and play a good first three minutes of the second half, and I don’t think we did that necessarily. We didn’t match their intensity right out of the chute.”
Williamsburg hosts Georgetown at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16. Clermont Northeastern faces Blanchester at home on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in their next game.