Rangers fall in district finalsPublished 6:57pm Thursday, March 15, 2012
MENDON — The Cassopolis boys basketball wrapped up its 2011-12 campaign with a hard-fought 55-48 loss to Constantine in the Class C District finals Friday night in Mendon.
The Rangers’ (8-15) season was a tumultuous one to say the least. They started the season on a four-game losing streak, lost a few players to injuries, never won more than two games consecutively and ended their season with a losing streak that lasted over a full calendar month.
In lieu of the hardships that the Rangers endured during the regular season, it would have been easy to arrive to the conclusion they would be a “one and done” team in the post season.
Only, someone forgot to mention that to the Cass’ players and coaches.
Only four days removed from suffering their worst loss of the season, the Rangers rallied to defeat Marcellus and Centerville in the first two rounds of the playoffs and made an improbable run to the District championship game.
Cassopolis would start sluggish in the championship game, falling behind 5-0 within seconds of the opening tip. It would then go on to score eight unanswered points and build a lead that reached as high as nine points en route to taking a 27-22 lead into halftime.
The Rangers built their lead by playing an aggressive and fast-paced style of basketball on both ends of the court. However, after the break, the Falcons looked to have made the proper adjustments. They broke Cassopolis’ half-court trap scheme (which caused a great deal of havoc for Constantine in the first half) several times for either uncontested or barely contested lay-ups.
Constantine took the lead for good with 3:07 left in the third quarter when guard Justin Bontrager buried a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 32-29 lead. Constantine would extend its’ lead to its’ biggest margin (nine points) with only 47 seconds left in the game.
Cassopolis would not quit, cutting the lead to three after Damion Brown converted on an “and one” free throw with 12 seconds left to play.
But the Rangers just ran out of time.
Cass coach James Moore got emotional while voicing his support for his team’s effort in the game and their effort during the entire season afterwards.
“You know there is a knock on kids from Cass. That they’re not hard workers, that they’re not smart and that they lack character. But I’ll tell you my guys showed tremendous character. Not just tonight, but all season. We had a rough season with injuries and everything, but we were able to bring everything together in the post season and have a chance to win a district title,” Moore said. “I’m so proud of my guys.”
Brown led Cass with 13 points while Mitchell Moore added 10 and Dwayne Morgan added nine. Bontrager led all scorers with 16.
Damion Brown 5, 3-5, 13; Mitchell Moore 4, 1-1, 10; Dwayne Morgan 3, 3-3, 9; Kenneth Carson 3, 0-0, 7; Quinten O’Brie 2, 0-0, 4; Vashaun Morgan 1, 0-0, 3; Ryan Hawkins 1, 0-0, 2. TOTALS: 19 7-9 48
Justin Bontrager 5, 4-4, 16; Tyler Eley 4, 3-5, 12; Payton White 5, 1-2, 12; Mike Harris 2, 5-6, 10; Nick Dimos 1, 0-0, 3; Chase Niblock 1, 0-0, 2. TOTALS: 18 13-17 55
Cassopolis 16 27 32 48
Constantine 11 22 38 55
3-point baskets: Cassopolis 3 (Moore, Carson, V. Morgan), Constantine 6 (Bontrager 2, Eley, Harris, Dimos, White). Total fouls (fouled out): Cassopolis 17 (none), Constantine 12 (none). Varsity records: Cassopolis 8-15, Constantine 9-13
MENDON — Dwayne Morgan scored a game-high 17 points to lead Cassopolis to the Class C District finals Friday night.
The Rangers (9-14) defeated Centreville (2-19) 51-36 in the semifinals Wednesday night.
Cassopolis will face Constantine, a 64-58 winner over host Mendon, in the championship game. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Besides Morgan, Kenneth Carson had nine points and Damien Brown eight.
Joe Wilson and Tony Troyer each had eight points for the Bulldogs.
Mitchell Moore 5; Dwayne Morgan 17; Kenneth Carson 9; Taylor Baker 0; Damien Brown 8; Justin Smith 1; William Wallace 0; Quinten O’Brie 3; Vashaun Morgan 6; Vinny Sopaseuth 0; Ryan Hawkins 2. TOTALS: 19 9-14 51
Kalvin Ludwig 0; Matt Clementz 6; Chase Alexander 5; Jon Peckinpaugh 4; Dylan Glass 4; Kellen Kirkham 1; Joe Wilson 8; Chris Chupp 0; Chris Carpenter 0; Caleb Logan 0; Tony Troyer 8. TOTALS: 13 9-13 36
Cassopolis 15 27 34 57
Centreville 13 22 27 36
3-point baskets: Cassopolis 4 (Moore, D. Morgan 2, Carson), Centreville 1 (Alexander). Total fouls (fouled out): Cassopolis 11 (none), Centreville 13(none). Varsity records: Cassopolis 9-14, Centreville 2-19