For the first time since being in Class 2, the Community R-VI Trojans basketball team was one win away from a district title for its first state sectional appearance since placing third in Class 1 in 2002.
Their run came to an abrupt end in this past weekend’s district championship game when the No. 1 seeded Trojans lost to Louisiana 48-31.
“They were able to execute offensively better than we were,” said Community R-VI head coach James Benson. “…My boys worked hard but they were a step behind.”
The loss meant it was the final game for Community R-VI seniors Austin Layman, Aaron Fairchild, Brennan Wells, Cameron Dubbert, and Justin Gastler.
“This is my first graduating group; I’m kind of invested in them,” Benson said. “…They’re our leaders. I’m indebted to how hard they worked for me.”
The Trojans finished the season with a 16-10 record, their best since the Final Four run in 2002.
Louisiana opened the game with a 6-1 lead when the Trojans made a 6-0 run behind 3-pointers from both Clay Thebeau and Layman.
Both teams traded baskets in the second quarter before the Bulldogs pulled away just before halftime with a 6-0 run to take a 21-14 lead.
The Trojans took just three shots in the first quarter and 14 in the first half.
Community R-VI junior starter Sean Wilson sat out of the first half with the flu but his sickness couldn’t contain him in the second half as he told coach Benson he wanted to be inserted into the lineup for the final two quarters.
“He wanted to play real bad,” Benson said. “We needed him on the floor. He just didn’t do what he normally does as I think the fatigue got to him.”
Louisiana opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run and pushed their lead to 15 points heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 19 points in the fourth quarter and held on for the 17-point victory to win their second district title in three years. Louisiana made 16-of-33 shots from the field in the win.
Layman scored a team-high seven points, three rebounds, one steal, and one assist while Clay Thebeau tallied six points, two rebounds, and one assist. Justin Durham tallied five points, seven rebounds, and two steals; Wilson had three points, five rebounds, three steals, and one block; Fairchild scored four points, two rebounds, and one steal; Dubbert added two points, three rebounds, two steals, and one assist; Cameron Foreman scored two points and one steal; Wells scored one point, one rebound, and one assist; Lane Thebeau had one rebound; and Gastler finished with one point and three rebounds.
Win at the buzzer
In the semifinals, the Trojans led 42-40 with under a minute left when Silex scored five points in 15 seconds to go up 45-42.Clay Thebeau answered for Community R-VI with a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left. Unfortunately, Layman fouled a Silex player on the inbound pass and the Owls converted two free throws. Silex led by two with 2.1 seconds when the Trojans set up a play after the timeout. Wilson inbounded the ball to Durham who stepped back behind the 3-point line in the corner and nailed a 3-point shot at the buzzer to lift Community R-VI to the win. Players jumped for joy on the court and the Trojans’ crowd cheered loudly for their team.
R-VI had made just 4-of-17 free throws in the fourth.
“Those free throws killed us,” Benson said. “We should have had the game in hand with five minutes left…I told them that these are times when good teams do not give up. Durham really had a short time to shoot and we executed…It was a great shot.”
Silex started the game on a 7-0 run before Wells got the Trojans going with two straight 3-pointers.
Community R-VI pulled ahead in the second quarter with a 7-0 run after four points were scored by Layman. Community R-VI led 28-20 at halftime and appeared in control after making 11-of-23 shots from the field.
Foreman made a difference for the Trojans in the quarter by taking care of the ball during crucial possessions.
“I think he realized tonight just how important he is to us offensively and defensively,” Benson said of Foreman.
Silex stayed in the game in the third quarter after making 8-of-10 free throws in the third quarter to keep the Trojans’ lead at six before the fourth quarter. Durham led the Trojans with 13 points and two rebounds while Layman tallied 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Clay Thebeau had 11 points, two blocks, one rebound, and one steal; Wells scored nine points, one assist, and one steal; Wilson had three points, six rebounds, and one steal; Foreman had one point, three steals, two rebounds, one block, and one assist; and Gastler had one rebound.
First round win
In the first round, the Trojans wasted little time attacking New Bloomfield and picked up an easy 66-27 victory.
“We executed our zone pretty well,” Benson said. “Our pressure made them turn it over a lot…They came out and felt like there was something we have to prove.”
After New Bloomfield scored the opening basket, Community R-VI went on a 22-0 run behind Durham’s two 3-pointers and Fairchild’s seven points. New Bloomfield turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter.
Clay Thebeau scored six points in the second quarter during a 15-0 run that helped the Trojans take a 45-10 lead at halftime and they never looked back.
The Trojans made 16-of-31 shots from the field in the first half and 23-of-47 in the game. New Bloomfield made just 4-of-18 shots from the field in the first half and 10-of-35 in the loss while they turned the ball over 21 times. Dubbert scored a team-high 13 points, nine rebounds, and one assists while Clay Thebeau tallied 11 points, three steals, two rebounds, and one assist. Durham had 11 points, three rebounds, and two steals; Fairchild scored nine points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal; Gastler scored four points, three rebounds, and one steal; Lane Thebeau tallied five points and one steal; Wilson scored two points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal; Wells had two points, four rebounds, one steal, and one assist; Foreman scored two points, two steals, one rebound, and one assist; Layman had one point, six assists, three rebounds, and three steals; Tyler Mays had one point and three rebounds; and Ryan Kitchen scored one point.