EDINBURGH -- John Shaw was unsure why Waldron had such a poor first half Wednesday against Jac-Cen-Del at the Edinburgh Sectional. The result was a 29-13 halftime deficit.
Lucas Shaw, Waldron’s leading scorer, got more involved in the offense in the third quarter and the Mohawks started clawing their way back against the Eagles.
The deficit was down to 10 at the end of three quarters and an 8-0 run to the mid-point of the fourth quarter got Waldron within three, 43-40.
Clark Dwenger and Carson Hughes followed with back-to-back three-pointers to hold off the Mohawks’ surge and Brady Comer made six free throws in the game’s final minute to seal a 55-44 victory and a date in Friday’s semifinal round against South Decatur.
“First half, we came out with an energy I haven’t seen before this year. We were just dead,” said Waldron interim head coach John Shaw. “I don’t know if the moment was too big at the time or just those first shots didn’t fall and people didn’t know how to handle it.”
Comer finished with 19 points and seven rebounds to push Jac-Cen-Del’s record to 10-14. Wednesday’s win was the Eagles’ second win this season over Waldron (9-13). Dwenger finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
The two seniors combined for 20 first-half points to lead Jac-Cen-Del to a quick double-digit lead.
Lucas Shaw had just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in the opening 16 minutes but capitalized on more opportunities in the third quarter which helped the Mohawks get back in the game.
“We were trying to get him to go hard but we weren’t cutting hard and getting open,” said coach Shaw. “They play a good man-to-man, sagging man-to-man (defense). They were cutting off all those dribble drives and we had to be willing to pull up and take the shot.”
Shaw had seven points in the third quarter but made just 1-of-4 free throws that added to his team’s 3-of-10 performance from the charity stripe in the opening three quarters.
“Uncharacteristic for us, especially Lucas,” said coach Shaw. “He is about an 80% free throw shooter and for him to short arm everything to start with was tough to see. We talk as coaches how those first free throws kind of dictate how you are going to be the rest of the game.”
Waldron closed out the third quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 36-26.
Jac-Cen-Del always seemed to find an answer when Waldron gained momentum. Brady Borgman opened the fourth quarter hitting a 3-pointer from the wing and the lead grew to 13.
Shaw scored on back-to-back possessions to get the lead under 10 and it was the junior that splashed a quick 3 from the top of the key following a Jac-Cen-Del turnover that punctuated the 8-0 run to the 4:21 mark that got the Mohawks within three points.
“I didn’t want us to exert all our energy right there,” said coach Shaw. “I knew it would go down to the wire.
“We got them to shoot some 3s. The bad part was they made them. That was the killer.”
Dwenger drilled his second 3 of the game on the next possession and Waldron’s run finally stalled. The Eagles then spread the floor and put Waldron in chase mode.
Hughes then delivered the final knockout punch with a 3 from the wing in front of his team’s bench to make it 49-40 with 2:08 left in the clock.
Shaw scored 18 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 20 points. He also had six rebounds.
Will Larrison, another junior, had 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. Keith Settles, one of three seniors that played their final game for Waldron Wednesday, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
John Shaw’s record as a head coach ends at 5-7. He was named interim coach in mid-January when David Corder resigned. He got the program to the sectional in good shape and now he will step aside to allow the school administration to find the program’s next head coach.
“It was exhausting for me because I’m not a teacher and I’m not in the school system,” he said. “I have another job and thankfully my partners at my business knew what I was doing and we’re on board with me.
“It was exhausting but I had a blast. If it wasn’t for that group of kids, I don’t think I would have jumped at the opportunity.”
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