Chargers win regional semifinal, lose key player

Mindy Carls
Charger Jared Simmer comes down with a rebound about a minute before the end of the first half in the regional semifinal game with the Cambridge Vikings. Simmer’s defensive board led to a Charger bucket.

“A good win and a bad loss” is how Orion coach Brent Hutton characterized the Chargers’ 82-43 win over Cambridge in regional semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 25, in Orion.

While the Chargers celebrated boosted their record to 26-4, they did so knowing Jared Simmer was on the way at the hospital with a broken left arm.

A key player for the Chargers, Simmer went up for a dunk and hit the floor on his arm, according to the coach.

He will be missed, Hutton said. As the season went on, Simmer got more and more playing time.

“The nice thing about this basketball team is we have a lot of depth,” Hutton said. “Someone will step up off the bench.”

Orion played “very, very good defense,” the coach said. “Cambridge has some very good shooters, and we didn’t give them very good looks.”

Matt Knoll played tenacious defense, Hutton said. 

“When he moves his feet, no one can get around him,” he said.

The Chargers were able to score a lot of baskets off transition, Hutton said.

Meanwhile, the Vikings could not handle the Charger attack.

“When we stopped scoring on the outside, we got the ball to Cody Williams to score inside,” Hutton said. “A lot of kids on the team can score. When opponents have to double- and triple-team Ian Cooper and Cody Williams on the inside, it opens up guys on the outside.”

With Orion taking control of the game early, Hutton was able to give a lot of playing time to younger Chargers, especially Tyler DeDecker, James Matson and Caleb Nesbitt.

Matt Thor was one of the reserves getting a lot of minutes.

“He has a love of the game,” Hutton said. “He loves being out there. He loves playing the game. He has a lot of energy out there.”

The coach said he appreciates players like Thor, who come to practice every day and work hard even though they don’t have a lot of minutes to show for their work.

It was the last game between Orion and Cambridge, which will co-op next year with AlWood. The new co-op will compete as the Ridgewood Spartans in navy blue and white uniforms.

Fast start

The Chargers ran to a 10-0 lead in the first 68 seconds of the game. Josh Hutton netted two treys and two free throws, and Cooper put in a deuce.

The Vikings got on the scoreboard at 6:33 in the first. Steven Lenertz popped in a field goal, and seconds later Tyler Nimrick added two free throws.

An old-fashioned three from Lenertz cut the Cambridge deficit to three points. 

After going scoreless for three minutes, the Chargers finally got a pair of baskets from Williams that boosted their lead to 14-7.

With less than a minute to go in the first, Kevin Gladkin connected on a free throw to give Orion a 15-9 lead going into the second quarter.

Hutton opened the new period with a deuce, followed shortly by a trey to give Orion its first double-digit lead at 21-11.

Seconds later, Matson stole the ball. At the other end of the floor, Williams converted for two points.

A Hutton steal led to a Williams basket and a 25-13 lead with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Midway through the period, the Chargers worked the ball around until Williams fired in two points.

After Cooper scored from under the basket, Orion led 29-17. He added two free throws with 3:03 to go.

Daniel Walsh spun in a free throw for Cambridge, but he missed his second throw and Lucas Grymonprez grabbed it for Orion.

Seconds later, Simmer passed the ball from under the Orion basket to Hutton out beyond the arc, and Hutton fired in the third of his four triples.

When Simmer hit a free throw, Orion had a 35-20 lead.

With 37 seconds to go in the half, Hutton fed the ball to Matson in the corner, and Matson hit for three.

Matson then stole the ball to deny Cambridge a chance to score in the final seconds of the half.

Early in the third quarter, a Hutton steal led to an alley oop for Williams, who threw down two points for a 40-20 lead.

With about six minutes to go in the third, Hutton whipped an inbounds pass to Grymonprez for two points.

Walsh scored for Cambridge, adding both a field goal and two free throws. Lenertz added a putback to make the score 44-26.

But Gladkin, Grymonprez, Williams, Hutton, Nesbitt and Cooper tossed in baskets to push the Orion lead to 56-26 before the third period ended.

As the fourth got underway, Hutton drew a foul as he shot. He hit both freebies.

A Grymonprez three extended the Orion lead to 35 points at 61-26. 

Hutton made both free throws following a technical foul.

After a steal, Grymonprez worked the ball to Ted Leuck for two points.

Seconds later, Grymonprez waited for a defender to fly by him on the baseline, then went up for a basket that gave Orion a 67-29 lead.

Leuck and Thor each hit a free throw, and Leuck, Nesbitt and Matson fired in baskets to give Orion a 76-38 advantage.

As the game wound down, DeDecker netted a free throw.

Danny DeBacker scooped up a loose ball, and at the Orion end of the floor, DeDecker scored on a putback.

Leuck scored the final Charger points.

Hutton poured in a game-high 22 points, including four treys and 6-for-6 shooting at the free-throw line. 

Williams popped in 15 points.

Grymonprez added nine; Matson and Cooper, eight each; Leuck, seven; DeDecker and Nesbitt, four apiece; Gladkin, three; and Simmer and Thor, one each.

The Chargers gunned in six treys, including one each from Matson and Grymonprez. 

Cambridge had three.

At the charity stripe, Orion made 16 of 26 attempts. Cooper shot 2-for-2; Matson, 1-for-1; DeDecker, 2-for-3; and Leuck, Simmer and Gladkin, 1-for-2.

Cambridge put in 10 of 13.