Pioneers Eliminate Raiders, Face Mid-Prairie Next
|David Dannemann drives to the basket against
|By CHAD DRURY
Thursday, February 22, 2001
FAIRFIELD Harley Carter walked out of Fairfield High School gymnasium Wednesday evening with a big, sly smile on his face underneath his felt gray Untouchables hat.
Carter, the coach of the fifth-ranked Fairfield Maharishi boys basketball team, knew his team didnt play well in a tight first half, but his squad proved untouchable in the second half en route to a 71-55 Class 2A district semifinal win over Williamsburg. The Pioneers will face Mid-Prairie in Tuesdays district final at Fairfield High School. Mid-Prairie was a 69-54 winner over Clear Creek-Amana in the other district semifinal.
With the Pioneers leading just 30-28 at halftime against a scrappy Williamsburg opponent comprising of football players and muscular athletes, Carter wanted cohesiveness the remainder of the game. We made some second-half adjustments because we werent on the same page, Carter said. We got the ball inside more, and they had a hard time stopping us.
The game was closer than its 16-point outcome. The Raiders closed the gap to one on many occasions, only to see the Pioneers hit a big basket on the other end to ignite a small run.
Zach Silverman scored a team-high 23 points for the Pioneers, but his solid effort was offset by Williamsburgs Andy Meyer, whose 24 points (19 in the second half) led all scorers and carried his team on his back up until the final minutes of the game.
Raider coach Paul Sondag praised his opponent after his teams setback. This was a hard-fought game by both teams, Sondag said. I was very impressed with Fairfield Maharishi, and they have excellent players and an excellent team.
Both teams started rusty with aggressive turnovers in the first quarter, which the Pioneers led 15-9. Williamsburg missed its first nine shots of the game, and shot just 2-of-13 in the quarter. However, the Pioneers opened up a six-point lead behind a 5-0 run to take an 8-2 lead, but free throws kept the Raiders in it.
Foul trouble plagued the Pioneers in the second quarter, which saw Fairfield Maharishi own a two-point lead. A lot of physical contact took place in the paint, and it led to the Pioneers Michael Hauptman picking up his third foul as time expired. Kurt Schaefer drilled a pair of free throws to close the half. Schaefer hit all six of his first-half free-throw attempts.
Williamsburg played a strong game and put a lot of pressure on us, Carter said. They were working to their strengths, and that kept them in the game.
We felt good going into halftime, Sondag said. But we missed some easy shots in the first half that really hurt. However, we stayed aggressive and we fought back.
After Williamsburg cut the deficit to three two minutes into the second half, a Silverman 3-pointer led to a 9-0 Pioneer run which gave the team its biggest lead, 41-31. However, Hauptman and David Dannemann each picked up his fourth foul before the end of the quarter, and had to sit while the Raiders climbed back with a 7-0 run to make the score 45-40.
While Pioneers flu-ridden senior forward Ben Stone was quiet in the first half, he took command in the fourth quarter. With the Pioneers ahead 51-46 with six minutes to play, Stone drove to the lane and hit a bucket for a seven-point lead. After the Raiders were unable to score, Silverman drained a 3-pointer to push the lead to 56-46. Williamsburg fought back on the strength of Meyer, who single-handedly gave the Raiders new life. Our guys really kept their poise when it was close, Carter said. We didnt let Williamsburg close the gap in the second half. We had some defensive breakdowns in the first half.
True to form, the Raiders got no closer than eight the rest of the way. The Pioneers finally broke the game open late when Williamsburgs Tyler Baethke was whistled for an intentional foul, and Dannemann hit both free throws. The Pioneers held on for the victory.
When they started to pull away, we had to start gambling, Sondag said. But the cream rose to the top, and the Pioneers hit some big shots.
Stone finished with nine rebounds and five steals for the Pioneers and also had a pair of blocks. Fairfield Maharishis defense held the Raiders to just 33 percent shooting (17-of-51), while the Pioneers were 23-of-52 (44 percent). Danny Duszynski added four rebounds and three assists for the Pioneers.
FAIRFIELD MAHARISHI (71)
Fouls: Williamsburg 26, Maharishi 19. Fouled out: McDonald, Baethke. 3-point goals: Silverman 3, Schaefer 2. Records: Williamsburg 12-11, Maharishi 22-1.