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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 5:43 pm

Defense drives Dwenger past Leo

Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette

GARRETT — The Bishop Dwenger boys basketball team learned the keys to the Leo offense in a win two weeks ago and used what it learned in a 66-30 win over the Lions in the first round of the Class 3A sectional on Tuesday.

"We played them a couple weeks ago and they're a good offensive team," Bishop Dwenger coach Matt Kostoff said. "They kind of wait for you to make mistakes and they have very good shooters. I think the key thing we did, we knew (Will) Moreau and (Jeremy) Davison can hit 3s in bunches and we really just wanted to stay with those guys. "

The Saints pulled out a 67-63 win over the Lions at home on Feb. 15 where Leo's Jeremy Davison had 21 and Eli Steiner had 18.

The performance by the Lions' shooters meant that for Bishop Dwenger to be successful, it would have to take away perimeter shooting and limit drives to the paint.

"The last time we played them, we didn't play that great of defense," Saints' Conlan Martin said. "We let them get around us so it was defense and keeping them in front of us and getting out to the 3-point shooters to take away their shot.

"Last three games, we played our best defense of the year. We shut teams down, we just need to continue to do that, keep playing defense."

The Saints out-rebounded the Lions 38-22, had 10 steals, outscored Leo 17-5 off turnovers and limited Leo to just 9 of 44 shooting from the field (20.5 percent) to advance to face New Haven in Friday's semifinal.

"Offense is a lot easier running off misses and steals, there's always transition lay-ups, open 3s," Bishop Dwenger's Campbell Donovan said. "From half-court, it's not as easy to get those because you have to run set plays.

"I'm just glad we got to push it up against them and we'll have to do that against New Haven, as well, because they're a very good team."

Bishop Dwenger started to pull away in the second quarter, when it closed out the first half on a 16-2 run to go into halftime up 28-17.

The momentum continued as the Saints then opened the third quarter with 12 straight points to go up 40-17 with 4 minutes left in the quarter.

"We were talking better, communicating better, switching better and our bigs did a better job of shadowing the basketball," Kostoff said. "(Eli) Steiner hurt a little bit in the second quarter, driving to the basket, but we had to give something up against them and you'd rather give up that than when Moreau hits 3s and Davison had 21 against us a couple weeks ago.

"We kind of had to pick our poison and it went in our favor tonight."

Donovan led the Saints with 13 points, Nick Passino added 12 and Martin 11. Davison scored 10 for the Lions.

The Saints defeated New Haven 54-50 in overtime on Jan. 11 but the biggest game on Bishop Dwenger's mind is the 48-45 overtime loss in last year's sectional semifinal.

"We just have to keep playing defense like we've been playing, stop penetration and rebound," Martin said. "Last year they killed us on the offensive rebounds and they knocked us out last year so we have to rebound and defend like we have been."

areichel@jg.net