Orion boys' basketball claims third sectional championship

Mindy Carls
Chargers triple-teaming a Lewistown Indian are, from left, Trent DeDecker, Tanner Williams and Caleb Nesbitt.

“It’s a new tradition, getting to sectionals and playing Lewistown,” Orion boys’ basketball coach Brent Hutton said.

This was the third year in a row the Chargers and Indians have clashed in sectionals.

Lewistown won 54-53 in the 2009 semifinals on the Indians’ own floor.

In 2010, Orion battled Lewistown through two overtimes before falling 75-65 in the finals at Bushnell-Prairie City-Avon.

They say it’s hard to beat the same team three times in a row, and the Chargers proved the truth of that statement with a 53-45 win over the Indians in the 2011 sectional championship game on Friday, March 4, in Lewistown.

After a win over Brimfield gave Orion a chance to avenge the earlier losses to Lewistown, Hutton said, “You want to get a chance to play them again. They are a quality team. We have to fix some of the things we did wrong in the first half (of the Brimfield game).”

The Chargers did, running the offense, taking better care of the ball, controlling the boards and making more free throws. They led the entire 32 minutes on Friday night.

Orion raced out to a 14-2 lead midway through the first period, then pushed the lead to 15 points at 25-10 in the second, 36-21 in the third and 42-27 in the fourth.

Hutton was happy with his team’s performance.

“It was one of those games there wasn’t a whole lot to yell about,” he said.

Lewistown was a physical team, but the Orion boys kept their composure, Hutton said.

The Indians surprised Orion by coming out in a 2-3 zone, and the Charger head man said he didn’t have his team ready for it. Still, the Chargers overcame the zone with patience on offense, and they were able to make good passes and get good shots.

Orion’s Danny DeBacker pulled off great steals on defense and did a great job of penetrating the lane on offense, Hutton said.

DeBacker, Andy Adams and Travis Anderson all guarded the Indians well on the perimeter and limited their looks at the basket, the coach said.

Charger and Indian fans brought a lot of energy into the gym, Hutton said.

Orion’s record improved to 30-3, setting a school record for wins in boys’ basketball.

Orion 53, Lewistown 45

Playing in the Sweet Sixteen for the third time, the Chargers had a chance to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in the program’s history.

They made the most of it, going up 4-0 with two Tanner Williams baskets.

More than a minute ticked off before Kevin Battefeld got Lewistown on the scoreboard.

Early in the game, the Charger press played havoc with the Indians’ efforts to put the ball in play.

With about 6 1/2 minutes to go in the first quarter, Adams stole the ball in the paint. He missed his shot but drew a foul and made both free throws for a 6-2 late.

Right after the free throws, the Chargers forced the Indians’ ballhandler out of bounds before he could reach the time line.

Seconds later, the Indians got a steal, but the intensity of the Charger defense pressured the ballhandler into throwing the ball out of bounds.

The Chargers capitalized on the turnover with a DeBacker second-chance basket for an 8-2 advantage. A little later, DeBacker did the same thing, converting an offensive rebound into two points for a 10-2 lead.

Midway through the first, Adams passed to DeBacker drifting in from the corner, and DeBacker netted two more points to give Orion its first double-digit lead.

Seconds later, Williams pulled off a steal. He missed  dunk and the two free throws that followed, but made up for the misses by grabbing the rebound and sending the ball through the net for a 14-2 lead at 3:35 in the first.

Orion fans were ecstatic, but everyone in the gym knew a lot of basketball still had to be played.

Lewistown’s Battefeld knocked down a three as the clock ticked under two minutes, and the quarter ended with Orion holding a 14-5 lead.

As the second quarter got underway, Williams connected on a free throw to push the Charger lead out to 10 points.

The Indians pulled within seven points, only to watch the Chargers surge to a 13-point lead at 21-8.

DeBacker triggered the 6-0 run with a steal that led to a Williams putback.

Trent DeDecker hit two free throws at 5:44.

Seconds later, Dylan Schultz drove into the lane, soared into the air and passed down and to the right to DeDecker, who hit the jumper.

Midway through the second, Lewistown’s Zach Duncan nailed two free throws to make the score 21-10.

The Charger press began to harass the Indians again. After Lewistown barely got the ball across the time line at 2:35, Williams stole the ball. At the other end of the floor, Adams passed to DeBacker for a triple to give Orion a 25-10 lead.

A little later, a steal led to an Adams basket and free throw for a 25-10 lead.

Lewistown’s Battefeld scored his team’s first field goal in about six minutes. Zack Rilea made two more baskets. The 6-0 run cut the Indians’ deficit to nine points at 25-16.

Unfortunately for the hosts, the run did not continue into the third period.

Caleb Nesbitt and DeBacker scored for the Chargers early in the second half.

Lewistown’s Gage Beekman also put in two, but the Orion lead went back to 13 points with a Williams tip-in at 5:05 in the third.

Battefeld converted an old-fashioned three-point play to pull the Indians within 10 at 31-21.

But the Chargers would go on a little run to restore their lead to 15 at 36-21. DeBAcker hit for two from inside the arc, and Williams spun in three from the free-throw line.

Chants of “We Are Orion” rang through the gym as the fourth quarter began.

Battefeld put a basket and a free throw on the board for Lewistown, only to have Nesbitt grab a teammate’s mess and score to take the Orion lead to 38-24.

The Charger lead went back to 15 points at 40-25 with a DeBacker free throw.

Following a Duncan basket, Williams hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 42-27 advantage.

Lewistown hit four free throws to come within 11 points at 3:21, but Adams drilled a trey for a 14-point lead at 3:00.

Fans who left early missed Adams’ three and 24 more points, including a pair of Battefeld threes that pulled Lewistown within 10 at 47-37.

Beekman’s old-fashioned three-point play hauled Lewistown within seven at 47-40.

What had been a 15-point Orion lead was down to seven points with 1:24 on the clock.

About 10 seconds later, DeBacker drew a foul. He made both free throws for a 49-40 lead.

Down by nine, the Indians were forced to burn a lot of time passing the ball around the perimeter.

When they finally launched a three-point attempt, it missed.

DeDecker grabbed the rebound, and while the crowd went crazy he was fouled. The Charger made both free throws with 35 seconds to go.

Indian Chance Simpson rifled in a three, pulling his team within eight at 51-43.

Fouled at the time line, DeDecker dropped in two more points with 17 seconds on the clock.

Rilea put in a shot to wind up the scoring.

Williams’ 18 points edged out Battefeld’s 16 for game-high honors.

DeBacker added 17 points; DeDecker, eight; Adams, six; and Nesbitt, four.

Duncan finished in double figures for Lewistown with 10.

Orion had two treys, one from DeBacker and one from Adams.

Lewistown had four, with Battefeld making two and Duncan and Simpson one each.

At the free-throw line, Orion made 17 of 25 attempts. DeBacker shot 2-for-2; DeDecker, 6-for-8; Adams, 3-for-4; and Williams, 6-for-10.

Lewistown made 11 of 15, with Beekman hitting 3-for-3; Austin Howerter and Battefeld, 2-for-2; Duncan, 3-for-6; and Rilea, 1-for-2.