Orion boys' basketball tops Mercer County in regional quarterfinals
The Orion Chargers downed the Mercer County Golden Eagles 60-38 in Class 2A regional quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
It should have been a matchup between Mrs. Hutton’s favorite sons, but a fan’s comment got Orion’s Brent ejected from the regular-season finale in Macomb on Friday, Feb. 17. He had to sit out the regional game in Orion.
Assistant coach Larry Anderson helmed the Chargers on Tuesday.
“This was my first varsity basketball win,” Anderson said. “I’ve had one in soccer for a similar situation.”
“This was basically Brent’s game plan to start,” Anderson said. “We had to make some adjustments at halftime.”
Ahead 14-2 going into the second quarter, the Chargers had let their guard down, he said. They took a 23-17 lead into the locker room.
“Brian Hutton is a very good coach,” Anderson said. “He played a defense we hadn’t been too familiar with.”
Mercer County’s Hutton conceded his brother had a good game plan, but he had one of his own.
“We tried to pull things out and take the air out of the ball,” he said.
Looking back, the Golden Eagles might have done better with a more up-tempo game, Brian Hutton said.
Orion’s 1-2-2 trap made life difficult for Mercer County, Hutton said.
“We got a big boost out of Zach Kahley off the bench,” Anderson said. “He had five or six steals, and Cory Stiles knocked down three threes, and that’s something we’ve been missing from all our group.
“Dylan Schultz did a good job on their best offensive player, Colton Wood, and really held him down in the first half. It took quite a while for him to get going.”
Wood had only four points until the clock ticked under two minutes in the second quarter. He hit two triples, one from the corner and one from the top of the key, and added a free throw to cut what had been a 14-point deficit to five points at 21-16.
Trent DeDecker and Tanner Williams did their usual solid job, Anderson.
The Chargers had a distinct height advantage, starting with the opening tip. At 6-6, Williams was almost a foot taller than the Mercer County player, Zach Aldinger, facing him in the circle.
Williams scored the first 10 Charger points, with two dunks among his four field goals. He also spun in two free throws.
Adam Killion fed the ball to Williams for the jam that put Orion up 6-0, and Schultz worked the ball to him for the basket that gave the Chargers an 8-0 lead.
Then it was Schultz’s turn in the spotlight, and he fired in two baskets for a 14-0 lead.
Wood popped in Mercer County’s first basket almost seven minutes into the game.
The Golden Eagles outscored the Chargers 5-0 early in the second period. Then Jake Schulenberg hit a basket for the hosts. A couple of minutes later Killion stole the ball, which led to Williams turning an offensive rebound into a bucket for an 18-7 lead.
Stiles gunned in a three with about 3:18 to go in the half.
With his team trailing 21-10, Wood scored on the treys to slash away at his team’s deficit.
Schultz gave Orion a little bit bigger cushion with a deuce, but Wood ended the half by putting in a free throw.
Leading by only six at 23-17 as the third quarter began, Orion began widening its lead. Williams popped in two within seconds of the whistle.
Stiles drained two treys, sandwiched around one from Williams, and about three minutes into the third the Chargers were up by 13 at 34-21.
Kahley put on a clinic in the last four minutes of the period. He fired in the basket that restored Orion’s lead to 14 points.
Then Kahley went baseline for a layup to give the Chargers a 40-26 advantage.
He stole a Mercer County pass and went coast-to-coast for a basket, and on the
Golden Eagles’ next possession, Kahley did the exact same thing again.
His efforts put Orion up 44-26.
As the fourth quarter began, Stiles nabbed the ball and went the length of the floor for a basket and an 18-point lead at 46-28.
Schulenberg tossed in two more points, and Schultz followed up with two more for a 50-31 advantage with just under six minutes to play.
Williams stripped the ball from a Golden Eagle, and seconds later Stiles passed to Williams for an alley oop. Wood undercut the Charger, who made the first of his free throws. He missed the second, but Schultz grabbed the ball and Williams scored on a turnaround jumper for a 22-point lead at 53-31.
Mercer County put up five quick points, but Williams netted two and DeDecker fired the ball to Schultz under the basket for two more.
Kahley scored Orion’s final field goal.
At the 2-minute mark, DeDecker drove to the basket and collided with Brad Sabel. The Golden Eagle drew the foul, and DeDecker posted the Chargers’ final point on a free throw.
Chargers reserves seeing some playing time in the final two minutes were Brady Hancock, Jason Marshall, Austin Anderson, Tyler Nelson, Caleb DeHamer, Drew Amador and Dakota Grant.
Tuesday, Feb. 21
Orion at IHSA?Class 2A regional in Orion
Orion 60, Mercer County 38
MCHS 2 15 11 10—38
OHS 14 9 21 16—60
Points scored: Tanner Williams 22, Dylan Schultz 12, Cory Stiles 11, Zach Kahley 10, Jake Schulenberg 4, Trent DeDecker 1.
3-pt. field goals: Team 4, Stiles 3, Williams 1. Mercer County 4.
Free-throw leaders: Team 6-8, Schultz 2-2, Williams 3-4, DeDecker 1-2. Mercer County 6-8.
Fouls: Orion 14, Mercer County 9.