WESTLAKE — The dream season for Vermilion and senior Cameron Kuhn lives on.
The fifth-seeded Sailors bounced second-seeded Holy Name 58-47 Saturday in the Division II district championship at Westlake High School.
The Sailors jumped out to an early lead and increased it to 13 midway through the third quarter before the Green Wave fought back to tie it with 4:33 remaining. The Sailors were not to be deterred, however, breaking out a 15-4 run to put the game away.
Vermilion (19-7) advances to the regional semifinal Thursday at Bowling Green’s Stroh Center, where it will meet Norwalk at 6:15 p.m.. Holy Name’s season ends at 18-6.
“Our kids, over the last couple of seasons, have put ourselves in that situation a lot, and they’ve always responded,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said of losing the lead. “We weren’t really panicking about it. We needed to get Kyle (Nader) back on the floor, and luckily, we were able to them hold off a little bit until he returned. And, once he was out there, good things happened.
“These kids are really close and they’ll do anything for each other, and I’m just super proud of them. And I have to thank these people in the stands. They show up every night. They’re unbelievable. They support this team more than we know. We’re really proud of our fans and our students. It was great to win this for them.”
Kuhn, who has had numerous huge performances during his team’s postseason run, had another one Saturday night. Not only did he lead all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, but his layup with 4:12 left broke the 43-all tie and kick-started the Sailors’ game-winning run.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I saw Vermilion come here and win (the district title) in 2009,” Kuhn said. “I wanted to experience this for myself and my friends, and to finally accomplish this and get back to the regionals as seniors is an amazing feeling.
“The key is trust in my teammates. If I’m hot, they’re going to get me the ball, and if one of them is hot, I’m going to get them the ball. This is a great team and I love all of them. I couldn’t have these types of performances without them.”
Kuhn scored 14 in the first half and added 10 in the third quarter. His layup with 4:07 remaining in the third gave the Sailors their biggest lead of the night, 36-23.
“Cameron’s unbelievable,” Habermehl said. “He was facing double- or triple-teams all night and not only does he score 31 points, but he finds his teammates for easy baskets, too.”
Nader added 13 points, eight in the second half. His two free throws with 30.9 seconds remaining gave the Sailors a solid 55-47 lead.
“Kyle’s a gamer,” Habermehl said. “He’s our most vocal leader. He expects a lot out of himself as he does from every single guy on this team.”
The Sailors opened a 16-8 first-quarter lead and still led 25-19 at the half. The Green Wave was forced into 13 first-half turnovers — eight in the first quarter — and shot just 9-of-17 from the floor.
“We really wanted to get out to a fast start, because Holy Name runs their offense too well and playing catchup with them may have been difficult and we might have been in a little bit of trouble,” Habermehl said. “So I thought we did a really good job of coming out of the locker room ready to play.
“We press — that’s just what we do. If you look at our team, you probably don’t expect us to press for an entire game, but that’s what we do. We’re conditioned for it and we do a great job.”
After Vermilion opened the second half with an 11-4 run to take a 13-point lead, Holy Name seemed to snap out of its game-long doldrums.
Taking advantage of nine third-quarter Sailor fouls, the Green Wave slowly but surely began to claw its way back into the game. Going 12-for-12 from the line, including 11-for-11 in the second half, Holy Name outscored Vermilion 14-6 to end the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 42-37.
A 6-1 run to start the fourth quarter tied it at 43.
“I thought in the first half (Vermilion) was the more aggressive team,” Holy Name coach Jeff Huber said. “They hurt us all night rebounding the ball. We did not do a good job rebounding and we gave up a lot of offensive boards. Also, offensively, they kind of got us on our heels. We made some careless turnovers in the first half.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vermilion 58, Holy Name 47
VERMILION (58): Cameron Kuhn 12-5-31, Kyle Nader 4-3-13, Seth Konrad 3-0-7, Forrest Boyd 4-2-6, Aaron Dawson 0-0-0, Ryan Barnes 0-1-1, Ross Lewis 0-0-0, Caleb Waller 0-0-0, Alex Nunn 0-0-0, Zack Myracle 0-0-0, Jordan Murray 0-0-0, Garrett Whitely 0-0-0, Nick Prenatt 0-0-0, Ryley Miller 0-0-0. Totals 21-11-58.
HOLY NAME (47): Will Davis 5-4-14, Lawrynce Johnson 3-7-13, Brad Karn 6-1-13, Mickey Williams 0-0-0, Jack Ehrbar 0-0-0, Sean Hickey 2-0-5, Rob Scholl 1-0-2, Ralph Vance 0-0-0, P.J. Martin 0-0-0, Mike Sabol 0-0-0. Totals 17-12-47.
Vermilion 16 9 17 16 — 58
Holy Name 8 11 18 10 — 47
Three-point goals: Vermilion 5-12 (Kuhn 2, Nader 2, Konrad), Holy Name 1-7 (Hickey). Field goals: Vermilion 21-52 (40 percent), Holy Name 17-44 (40 percent). Free throws: Vermilion 11-20 (55 percent), Holy Name 12-12 (100 percent). Rebounds: Vermilion 29 (Boyd 10, Konrad 6), Holy Name 26 (Karn 10, Davis 6). Turnovers: Vermilion 10, Holy Name 19. Total fouls: Vermilion 17, Holy Name 17.
WHO: Vermilion vs. Norwalk
WHAT: Division II regional semifinal
WHEN: Thursday, 6:15 p.m.
WHERE: Bowling Green State University