After leading by seven points in the first quarter, the Roughriders trailed by just two points at halftime.
Upper Sandusky picked up its level of play in the third quarter and ran away with a 66-53 win in a Division III district semifinal at Norwalk High School on Wednesday.
"We lost by 17 pounds," Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. "I know everybody is going to look in the box score and see we got outscored by 17 points in the third quarter. But, the bottom line was they had us outweighed at four of the five positions by 17 to 20-plus pounds of muscle."
Western Reserve finishes its season at 17-5.
"Their muscle took over in the third quarter," Sheldon said. "We were not as organized in the third quarter as what we were in the first two quarters, and there are some things that we could have cleaned up."
Mason Vent opened the third quarter with consecutive buckets for the Rams (19-5) before a score by Evan Young. Just like that, a 26-24 deficit had halftime had ballooned to eight points unless than two minutes.
Hayden Huntington got the 'Riders on the board in the third quarter, but Trevor Clifford scored twice more for Upper Sandusky. After a second timeout of the quarter by Sheldon, Cameron McCreary scored before hitting a 3 from the left corner. The Rams led, 41-26.
Luke Rowlinson hit three free throws after being fouled shooting a 3, but Clifford scored on the other end. Upper Sandusky ran off the last seven points of the quarter for a 50-31 lead after three quarters.
"They gained momentum," Sheldon said. "High school tournament basketball games are all swung on the drop of a dime. They got out to the quick run that they did and they gained momentum."
McCreary scored the first two buckets of the game for the Rams, but Western Reserve ran off the next 11 points. Aiden Markley hit two 3s and Rowlinson added another in the run.
Upper Sandusky was not fazed. Trailing 13-6, Clifford scored back-to-back buckets before McCreary registered a 3-point play. McCreary scored again, but a score by JJ Weisenberger tied the game at 15 after eight minutes.
Young opened the scoring in the second quarter with a 3 and McCreary scored again before the Rams opted to slow the pace down. Markley hit his third triple, but Upper Sandusky pushed the lead to 24-18 after two buckets by Clifford. Rowlinson hit a 3 and Cory Hipp tallied a 3-point play off of a steal to tie the game. Cole Sowers scored his only bucket of the game with six seconds left in the quarter to give the Rams a 26-24 lead at halftime.
McCreary and Clifford each scored 23 points. Young added 10 points while Vent tallied six points.
"Our game plan was to shut down their two best players — Vent and Young. They had (16) combined points," Sheldon said. "Our problem was we broke down and let two role players in McCreary and Clifford play to their strengths. McCreary is an all right-handed driver and we let him do it. Clifford is an all right-handed driver and muscle man in the lane — we let him do it. That is the difference in the game. We stopped their two best players. We could not stop two role players."
John Skrada led Western Reserve with 12 points while Markley scored 10 points. The 'Riders were out-rebounded, 31-19.
"I know they have a lot back. So do we," Sheldon said. "Hopefully, good Lord willing, 12 months from now, we are going to make up 17 points in a heart beat and it will be even more entertaining."
UPPER SANDUSKY (19-5)
Cameron McCreary 8-6—23, Trevor Clifford 10-3—23, Mason Vent 2-2—6, Evan Young 3-3—10, Jason Holly 0-2—2, Cole Sowers 1-0—2. TOTALS 24-16—66.
WESTERN RESERVE (17-5)
JJ Weisenberger 1-0—2, John Skrada 4-2—12, Aiden Markley 3-1—10, Luke Rowlinson 2-3—9, Hayden Huntington 4-0—8, Cory Hipp 3-1—7, Jude Muenz 2-0—5. TOTALS 19-7—53.
Upper Sandusky 15 11 24 16 — 66
Western Reserve 15 9 7 22 — 53
3-point FGs: (US) McCreary, Young; (WR) Markley 3, Skrada 2, Rowlinson 2, Muenz