MADISON TWP. — Vermilion battled back, but it wasn’t enough.
The Sailors rallied from a massive first-half deficit to take a lead late in the third quarter, but Lexington took control in the fourth in its 46-43 Division II district semifinal game at Mansfield Madison.
Vermilion (20-5) missed 15 of 16 shots from beyond the arc in the first half as Lexington, the third seed in the Mansfield district, raced out to a 25-8 lead early in the second quarter.
Missed 3-pointers would be a theme for the Sailors, who ended the game just 2-of-29 from beyond the arc.
Vermilion trailed 30-19 at halftime, but looked like a different basketball team in the third quarter. They forced seven Lexington turnovers in a 15-0 run that, after they trailed by 17 points earlier, gave them a 34-32 lead.
Senior Joby Pfeil scored six of his team-high 14 points during the run.
In the fourth quarter the Sailors looked tired and the Minutemen (20-5) used a 9-4 run to open their lead back up.
Vermilion missed all seven of its 3-point attempts in the final quarter.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “That wasn’t us shooting the basketball. We were 2-of-29 shooting 3-pointers and we’re a 40 percent 3-point shooting team. We just couldn’t find it tonight.
“I thought we got some good looks. I thought we got some rhythm shots. Even though they weren’t going in, I give them a lot of credit because they kept fighting back.”
Vermilion played without two starters. Junior Jonah Pfeil injured his foot late in the regular season and was in a walking boot for the playoffs while starting center, junior Luke Pena, injured his right hand prior to the sectional title game.
“The way we like to play, when we press like that, it makes it a little more difficult because you wear down a bit, but we’re too small to play any different,” Habermehl said. “It hurts losing two guys, but we don’t want to use that as an excuse. We’re a good basketball team with them or without them.”
After Seth Hurd pulled Vermilion within a point with a short jumper in the lane at the 4:05 mark, the Sailors had four chances to take the lead after getting stops on the defensive end. They missed 3-pointers on three of those possessions and had a shot blocked by Cade Stover the last chance they had at the lead.
“I’m proud of how they fought back tonight,” Habermehl said. “We knew they were going to get themselves back in the game because that’s what this team does. They are not going to get blown out in a basketball game. We just couldn’t knock down shots. That’s basketball.”
Pfeil said his team never panicked, even when it faced the large deficit.
“We’re not ever going to give up on our teammates, or fans or anybody,” he said. “It showed how we are always going to fight for each other no matter what the score is. We showed that in the third quarter, but we just fell short at the end.”
Stover scored 13 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to lead the Minutemen.
Vermilion’s Mason Montgomery had 13 points and seven rebounds to go with Pfeil’s 14 points.
“We took the lead,” Habermehl said. “We had a couple of rough possessions there when we had the lead and the shots didn’t go down. If those go down it might have been a different basketball game.
“We’ll be back next year. We’re losing three guys off a 20-win basketball team — three important guys, but we’ll be ready to go.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lexington 46, Vermilion 43
VERMILION (43): Seth Hurd 4-0-9, Mason Montgomery 6-1-13, Joby Pfeil 6-1-14, Reese Miller 2-1-5, Eli Balek 0-2-2. Totals 18-5-43.
LEXINGTON (46): Bryant Givand 5-3-14, Ben Vore 6-0-16, Mason Kearns 1-1-3, Cade Stover 6-0-13. Totals 18-4-46.
Lexington 16 14 4 12 — 46
Vermilion 8 11 15 9 — 43
Three-point goals: Vermilion 2-29 (Hurd, Pfeil), Lexington 6-14 (Vore 4, Givand, Stover). Field goals: Vermilion 18-54 (33 percent), Lexington 18-41 (43.9 percent); Free throws: Vermilion 5-13 (38.5 percent), Lexington 4-6 (66.7 percent); Rebounds: Vermilion 27 (Hurd 8), Lexington 40 (Stover 19). Turnovers: Vermilion 9, Lexington 19. Total fouls: Vermilion 15, Lexington 13. Fouled out: None.