CANTON — Oberlin’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in 12 years was anything but sweet Wednesday night at the Canton Memorial Field House for the Division III regional semifinal.
The Phoenix, after holding both of their district tournament opponents to less than 30 percent shooting from the field, couldn’t stop LeBrae as they fell 75-52 to finish the year 18-8.
The Vikings (23-3) were a red-hot 30-of-50 (60 percent) from the field in advancing to Saturday’s final against Beachwood.
“It was a hard matchup for us,” Kurt Russell said. “They played extremely well. We shot the ball poorly. It wasn’t about effort. The effort was there, but we’re awful thin.”
Right from the start, LaBrae’s 6-foot-7 Peyton Aldridge proved to be as advertised. He scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in dominating play on the floor. LaBrae jumped in front 15-8 at the first break and opened a 32-13 lead before Oberlin gave itself some hope by scoring the final eight points of the first half to close to within 32-21.
“We felt excellent,” Russell said. “We’re only down by 11 and we’ve been there before. But our scoring drought got to us in that third quarter. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
LaBrae opened the second half on an 11-4 run and held a 55-33 lead going into the fourth quarter. Oberlin was only 20-of-66 from the field for the night.
“Even Jason (Moore) driving to the hole missed a couple easy layups,” Russell said of his senior leader, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“Their full-court pressure gave us some more gaps in the half court,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said.
“They’re quick in the half court so spreading them out and handling the ball enabled us to get some wide-open shots.”
Shots that they made.
Aldridge was a big factor. Not only can he score, he handles the ball and passes very well. It’s easy to see why he’s being courted by a number of Division I schools. He was 13-of-17 from the floor.
“He’s special,” Kiser said. “You only get a player like that once in a lifetime. He’s so versatile and he’s probably our best ball-handler.”
“It was Aldridge,” said Russell when asked what was the big difference. “That’s an excellent basketball team.”
But it has still been a great ride for Oberlin.
“Not too many gave us a chance to get this far,” Russell said. “Orrville was supposed to beat us (in the first round) and we managed to get by Elyria Catholic and the No. 3 seed (Waynedale). It’s going to be hard for me losing these seniors. Jason, Marcus (Bailey) and Nolan (Isom) have meant so much for us. It’ll be hard to replace them.”
Bailey finished with 12 points but no other Phoenix player reached double figures.
“I’m still proud of them,” Russell said. “They are fine young men.”
“The adversity we faced is what I’ll remember the most,” said Moore, who will play for Division II Findlay next year. “Everyone doubts Oberlin because it’s such a small school. No one believed in us. I had a chance to go and play for a bigger school, but I told my mother I wanted to stay here and show we could have success here.”
LaBrae 75, Oberlin 52
LABRAE (75): Chris Clevenger 3-0-6, Peyton Aldridge 13-1-28, Justin Jenkins 1-0-3, Tyler Shiamone 1-0-3, Carl Brown 3-3-9, Blake Sprague 1-0-2, Nate Middleton 3-1-8, John Richards 3-2-10, Marcell Richardson 2-2-6. Totals 30-9-75.
OBERLIN (52): Marvin Jackson 0-2-2, Malcolm Allen 1-0-3, Jason Moore 8-1-17, Demonte Taborn 0-4-4, Charles Lewis 2-0-4, Kalif Townsel 0-1-1, Marcus Bailey 5-1-12, Nolan Isom 4-0-9. Totals 20-9-52.
LaBrae 15 17 21 22 — 75
Oberlin 8 13 12 19 — 52
Three-point goals: LaBrae 6 (Aldridge, Jenkins, Shiamone, Middleton, Richards 2), Oberlin 3 (Allen, Bailey, Isom); Field goals: LaBrae 30-50 (60 percent), Oberlin 20-66 (30 percent); Free throws: LaBrae 9-17 (53 percent), Oberlin 9-13 (69 percent); Rebounds: LaBrae 37 (Aldridge 12), Oberlin 34 (Moore 11); Turnovers: LaBrae 14, Oberlin 7; Total fouls: LaBrae 12, Oberlin 14; Fouled out: None.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.