WOOSTER — It wasn’t as dramatic as Willis Reed taking the floor against the Lakers in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals, but the presence of Keystone’s Caleb Schillace on the basketball court Monday night was just about as meaningful.
Schillace, just eight days after an emergency appendectomy, came off the bench to help the Wildcats crush Northwestern 46-27 in it opening game in the Division III sectional tournament at Wooster High School.
In just under 20 minutes, Schillace had seven points and six rebounds. Any lingering questions about his health were answered with 1:18 left in the first half when he dove for a loose ball and slid on his stomach almost 15 feet across the floor. Schillace jumped right up, as did Keystone’s chances in the tournament.
“It felt good to get back and play a game,” Schillace said. “The only thing I was worried about was disrupting what we’ve done the past week. I’m happy I was able to come off the bench and just disappear into the flow of the game.”
Keystone (16-5) struggled in the first quarter offensively, but its defense was spot on. The Wildcats forced seven Northwestern turnovers and limited the Huskies to 3-of-9 shooting from the field as Keystone grabbed a 10-6 lead.
Northwestern (11-10) opened the second quarter with a 7-3 run, tying the score at 13 on Kody Kidd’s 3-pointer with 4:34 left in the half. A pair of Schillace free throws gave Keystone a 15-13 lead, and a Brandyn Sittinger basket and a 3-pointer by Brandon Osborne helped Keystone take a 24-14 lead into halftime.
Northwestern made another charge in the third quarter, pulling to within 24-20 with 3:28 left. This time Keystone responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Jacob Kolar and Brandon Osborne to push the lead to 30-20.
Keystone led 34-22 at the start of the fourth quarter and made sure there was no Huskie charge this time. Eight straight Keystone points, including three by Schillace, extended the lead to a commanding 42-22. When Northwestern scored with 2:22 left in the game it was the first Huskies basket since 1:00 was left in the third quarter — a span of 5:38.
“This is the best defensive team I’ve ever had,” Keystone coach Greg Morgan said. “They get down, they want to play, they want to defend and they want to rebound. They don’t take any plays off and are always going after the ball.
“They just wear down the other team.”
Osborne scored 21 points to lead Keystone for the second straight game. However, the return of Schillace was the most important thing to him following the game.
“He’s our leader and we’re going to need him going forward,” Osborne said. “His presence on the floor is big for us. He does it on both ends of the floor, so it was good to have him out there tonight and playing.”
Keystone 46, Northwestern 27
NORTHWESTERN (27): Drew Kline 3-4-10, Tyler Smith 2-0-5, Kody Kidd 2-0-5, Brandon Covert 2-0-4, Malachi Nolletti 1-1-3, Mitchell Altenburger 0-0-0. Totals 10-5-27.
KEYSTONE (46): Brandon Osborne 6-6-21, Brandyn Sittinger 3-1-8, Caleb Schillace 1-5-7, Jacob Kolar 1-4-7, Adam Hopkins 1-1-3. Totals 12-17-46.
Northwestern 6 8 8 5 — 27
Keystone 10 14 10 12 — 46
Three-point goals: Northwestern 2 (Smith, Kidd), Keystone 5 (Osborne 3, Sittinger, Kolar). Field goals: Northwestern 10-33 (30 percent), Keystone 12-40 (30 percent). Free throws: Northwestern 5-6 (83 percent), Keystone 17-20 (85 percent). Rebounds: Northwestern 28 (Covert 13), Keystone 24 (Schillace 6). Turnovers: Northwestern 21, Keystone 10. Total fouls: Northwestern 19, Keystone 9. Fouled out: Altenburger.
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.