CAMDEN — Playing in front of the of the home fans for the final time this season and with a chance to secure a league title, Preble Shawnee boys’ basketball team overcame a slow start and some early jitters to rally for a 56-45 win over Milton-Union on Friday, Feb. 17.
The win secured the Arrows’ first Southwestern Buckeye League championship since the 2010-2011 season and the program’s ninth overall — eighth in the SWBL.
“It was a goal that we had since the start of the season,” Preble Shawnee’s first-year coach Dale Spitler Jr. said. “Graduation hit us pretty tough and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But with the guys we had (coming back) and the senior leadership that we had we knew that if we worked hard and everybody played together, we knew it would have to be a team effort.”
Shawnee (16-6, 10-1) will share the Buckeye Division title with Carlisle.
“Carlisle’s not a bad team to share with,” Spitler Jr. said. Obviously, we would like to win it outright, but we’re happy we at least got a split.”
Milton-Union, though, played like a team that wanted to spoil the celebration and early on it looked like the Bulldogs, a team Shawnee beat 66-31 on Dec. 9, was up to the challenge.
The Bulldogs knocked down three 3-pointers in the first four minutes and built an 11-3 lead and still led 13-10 after the opening quarter.
In the second frame, Shawnee took control of the game using its transition game to outscore Milton 22-8 behind the play of Andrew Monnin and balanced scoring from the rest of the team to take a 32-21 lead into halftime.
Monnin, who also had five rebounds, scored seven of his 13 points in the second quarter.
The Arrows tied the game at 15-15 on a Kevin Ketring basket with 6:16 to play and took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Tyler Worley 16 seconds later.
After Milton-Union trimmed the lead to 32-25 early in the third, Monnin and Joey Bates, who scored a game-high 17 points, combined to score the Arrows’ final 14 points of the quarter and keep their team in the lead at 46-37.
Shawnee’s lead grew to as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Shawnee, the No. 7 seed, will begin postseason play on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Vandalia-Butler High School. The Arrows will play No. 6 Franklin-Monroe at 6:30 p.m.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.