EAGLE SENIOR … Zach Hayes drives to the bucket in the first half of the Division IV district semifinal. (PHOTO BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Nate Calvin
DEFIANCE – The North Central Eagles held the Pilots offense in-check during the first half by limiting them to just 15 points and holding leading scorer Jakob Trevino (17.4 ppg) to just four.
The second half was a different story with Ayersville erupting for 41 points on 14/25 (56%) shooting led by Trevino pouring in 24 points to help the Pilots rally from 11 points down to get a 56-45 win.
A triple by Colin Patten, a layup from Mason Sanford, and two free throws by Joey Burt for North Central increased the Eagles 19-15 halftime lead to 26-15 just two minutes into the third quarter.
Trailing now 28-17, the Pilots would make their first run of the second half with an 8-2 spurt to trim the Eagle lead to 30-25 before Patten knocked down another shot from beyond the arc to make it 33-25.
Trevino started a 9-2 Ayersville run to end the third quarter with a driving layup followed by a triple, Tyson Schlachter scored inside and Trevino added another bucket to cut the North Central lead to 35-34.
The final frame opened with two free throws by Carter Michael to put Ayersville in front 36-35, their first lead of the game.
A Trevino field goal pushed their lead to 38-35 but Zach Hayes answered for the Eagles with a drive to the hoop for a layup and Burt was 2/2 at the line to give the Eagles the lead back 39-38 at the 5:59 mark.
The Ayersville advantage inside then began to show as Ike Eiden buried a triple after an offensive rebound and after an Eagle turnover it was Trevino converting a three-point play off another offensive board.
The Eagles responded though with a Mason Sanford triple to quickly cut the Pilots lead to 44-42 with 5:07 left in the game.
It was Schlachter again for Ayersville with a jumper in the lane and then Weston McGuire was 1/2 at the stripe to give the Pilots a 47-44 advantage.
The Pilots began to pull away as it was Schlachter with a bucket and a foul on a nice pass from McGuire to increase the advantage to 50-44 with 1:48 to go after the conventional three-point play.
Ayersville sealed the game at that point with another Schlachter score inside followed by Trevino going 4/4 at the charity stripe to put the game away.
It was a dominant performance by the Pilots in the fourth as they outrebounded North Central 11-2 (four offensive), shot 6/10 from the field and went 9/10 at the line.
After just a 7/26 (26%) performance shooting in the opening half, the Pilots finished 21/51 (41%) for the game with five triples. Trevino finished with a game-high 28 points and Schlachter added 11 (seven in the fourth quarter) for Ayersville.
For the Eagles (14-10), they were 15/35 (42%) shooting with four triples and were paced in scoring by 17 points from Hayes and Burt tallied 13.
The underdog Eagles got off to the start they needed with Hayes scoring five points in the opening quarter and Patten added a 3-pointer for a 13-6 North Central lead after the first eight minutes.
A transition layup by Hayes increased the Eagles lead to 17-8 at the midway point of the second quarter before the Pilots put together a 7-2 tun to end the quarter and narrow the deficit to 19-15 at halftime.
The top two seeds in the Defiance district will now meet for the championship on Friday night with No. 1 Antwerp (23-1) and the No. 2 Pilots (18-5) locking horns in an all-GMC final.
N. CENTRAL 13 6 16 11 – 45
AYERSVILLE 6 9 19 22 – 56
Nate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org