SHELBY — Clear Fork’s late-season run continued Friday with a 61-41 upset win over top-seeded New London in the sectional championship game.
With the win, the Colts advanced to Thursday’s district semifinal game vs. Western Reserve at Norwalk High School.
Chance Barnett scored 24 points to lead the Colts and the Clear Fork defense shut down New London in the second half. New London led 32-30 at halftime, but was outscored 31-9 after the intermission.
Clear Fork head coach Steven Bechtel said the Colts didn’t change anything in the second half, they were just a lot more effective guarding the Wildcats.
“We didn’t do anything different, we just told the kids that they have to play better defensively,” he said.
Both teams had scoring runs in the first half to keep the game close.
New London took an 8-2 lead, forcing a Clear Fork timeout at the 4:57 minute mark of the first quarter. Following the timeout Chase Endicott and Brennan South made a pair of quick 3-point baskets as the Colts went on a 16 – 6 run to take an 18-14 first-quarter lead.
The Colts only scoring in the second quarter came off the 3-point shot. Barnett made three and Jared Schaefer added one basket outside the arc. Clear Fork built a 27-18 advantage before the Wildcats called a timeout half-way through the second period.
New London outscored the Colts 14-3 the rest of the period take a 32-30 lead into the locker room. It was the Wildcats final run of the game.
The Colts were whistled for three quick fouls in the first 27 seconds of the third quarter as both teams were more aggressive. Clear Fork’s defense held the Wildcats to only six points in the quarter, two of 13 from the field. New London made its first field goal at the 2:20 mark of the period.
Barnett added two more 3-point baskets in the quarter, giving the Colts a lead a 47-38 heading into the final period.
New London couldn’t shoot its way back into the game against the Colts’ defense, going three of 25 from the floor in the second half.
Clear Fork outscored New London 31-9 to end the game.
“It was a great team effort. Everybody played off the bench and gave us positive minutes,” Bechtel said.
The Colts were aggressive at both ends of the floor, shooting 25-40 from the field and forcing the Wildcats into 24 turnovers.
Schaefer added 13 points and Brennan South scored 11 to back Barnett’s 24-point effort.
The Colts’ defense held the Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer, Ryan Lane, to eight points.
“I though we did a great job on the Lane kid — whoever was matched up with him. It was Jared Schaefer was most of the night,” Bechtel said
The Colts came into the game following an 81-51 rout of Galion in the opening game of sectional play.
“We’re doing the little things a lot better than we did through the first 21 games. I mean we’re rebounding, we’re getting timely stops and we’re executing better at both ends of the floor,” Bechtel said of his team’s good play.
“New London is a fabulous team. “We know that everybody down the stretch is going to be good. We just have to make sure that we play fundamental basketball and be solid defensively.”
Heading into the tournament, and thanks in part to a rugged Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule, Clear Fork had only five wins.
“That conference is a bear and we knew that,” Bechtel said.