Wabash clinches '18-19 TRC title

Members of the Wabash Apaches basketball team claimed a Three Rivers Conference championship Friday night. Team members include (front row, from left) Joe Leland, Trenton Daughtry, Jesse Allison, Wyatt Davis, Blake Gribben, Dereck Vogel, Bryant Boggs (second row, from left), coach Paul Wright, coach Phil Keefer, Jared Holley, Kallen Kelsheimer, Jasper Walter, Logan Vander Velden, Elijah Vander Velden and coach Matt Daughtry. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

Wabash’s boys basketball team defeated Peru 66-43 Friday night to finish off a Three Rivers Conference Championship, the program’s first outright conference title since 1946.

“My dad was born in 1947,” coach Paul Wright said. “I couldn’t believe (how long it’s been). Coach Henry has all of our stats. He does our book, and he told us that. I knew it had been a long time. It’s excellent. I’m glad it’s over. Hopefully we can continue.”

It’s been a year full of team and personal accomplishments for the Apaches.

Wabash finished the regular season 18-4 (8-1 TRC), the most wins for the program since 1957.

“We’ve been working hard for this for about six years,” Wright said. “There’s been a lot of seniors that have come before these guys that have worked so hard to achieve that goal. To be able to do that, I feel like it’s an entire program achievement.

“These seniors (Logan Vander Velden and Blake Gribben) were being pushed by seniors when they were sophomores and freshmen in practice to make them better. To achieve this, like I said after the county tourney, it’s nice to see kids who set goals but work so hard in practice. Our practices are not easy. It’s nice to see them push themselves every day. There’s not any egos out there.”

Wabash led 38-22 at the half, but Peru made a third quarter push to pull back to within six. Wabash was outscored 13-12 in the third quarter, but rebounded out outscore the Tigers 16-8 in the final stanza.

“Credit Peru,” Wright said. “We knew they weren’t going to quit playing. We did it Tuesday against Eastern (too). We can’t start doing that very often. We just weren’t ready to play mentally or physically and they took it right at us. Luckily we were able to withstand that run and make a little run of our own at the end.”

Wabash also celebrated a personal milestone in all the program achievements Friday.

Junior guard Trenton Daughtry became the first Apache since Todd Hensley in 1995 to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career on a drive to the basket in the second quarter.

“It’s a great feeling; it’s a great weight off my chest,” Daughtry said. “I set out to be on (the 1,000-point) board since I was a little kid. I looked up and saw those names and said ‘I want to be up there.’ My main focus tonight was just to win the conference championship. My brothers and I fight and battle every day. We set this as a goal and accomplished it. This means more to me than anything. It feels great. It’s a huge deal to me. I’m so grateful. I’m so blessed.”

The Apaches move on to Class 2A Oak Hill Sectional play, where they will face North Miami Tuesday night in the opening round. Wabash defeated North Miami 84-43 in the regular season.

“Defensively we are (playing our best),” Wright said. “We’ve held opponents to 46 points per game for 22 games. Tonight, a pretty good Peru team had 43. So, I think defensively, we’re playing pretty well.

“Offensively, it’s coming. I thought tonight we started off a little bit slow. But you can always play better. So, it’s hard for me to admit if we’re playing our best. We’d like to keep playing for a while, so we have to get better starting (Saturday) when we practice at Oak Hill and start to prepare for North Miami.

Wabash will be gunning for its first sectional title since 1967.

“We have to get through North Miami, and if we’re able to do that, we got an Oak Hill team on their floor at 8 o’clock on a Friday night,” Wright said. “I’m assuming there will be a lot of people there. We have some tough teams in our sectional. If we’re able to do that, that would be awesome. But, we’re looking at North Miami. 1967 has been a long time. I would love to end that drought, too, but we have to play well.”

Posted on 2019 Feb 26