Apaches fall short in regional bid

Wabash’s Trenton Daughtry goes up for a shot around the defense of Frankton’s Ryan Detling during Saturday’s Lapel Boys Basketball Regional. Daughtry scored 25 points, but the Apaches fell to the Eagles, 57-54. Photo by Eric Christiansen

By Josh Sigler

LAPEL – The Wabash boys basketball team fell agonizingly short of advancing to the regional final round Saturday, falling to Frankton 57-54 in the morning regional semifinal at Lapel High School.

Trailing 57-54 with 12.2 seconds left, the Apaches had a pair of looks at 3-pointers in the final seconds, but couldn’t connect, giving the Eagles the victory.

“It’s a sad time,” Wabash coach Paul Wright said. ”You never want something like this to end. I thought we played really well today, and Frankton did as well. We just didn’t hit enough shots. We had a look at it at the end. I told them that’s not the reason we lost. We need to learn from this. Just a lot of disappointed kids in there. That’s hard to see.”

The game was tight throughout. Class 2A No. 4-ranked Frankton (25-3) jumped out to a 6-2 lead early, but a Dereck Vogel 3-pointer from the left wing and a steal and breakaway by Trenton Daughtry gave Wabash its first lead at 7-6 with 3:41 left in the first.

Frankton would go on to take a 14-12 lead by the end of the first quarter, with Daughty mixing in an old-fashioned three-point play down the stretch in the period.

Wabash took the lead again at 18-16 with 6:08 left in the second quarter with the help of a pair of buckets by Elijah Vander Velden.

Frankton rebounded and outscored the Apaches (21-5) 9-4 the rest of the way in the first half to take a 25-22 lead into intermission.

“Defensively, we really thought we could bother their guards,” Wright said. “I told our guards I thought they did an excellent job. No. 30, the (Kayden) Key kid is really good, and I thought Logan (Vander Velden) did a nice job on him. Defensively, we did everything we wanted. We held a team that’s averaging almost 70 points a game to 57. I was pleased defensively the entire day.”

Wabash started the third quarter on a 10-02 run to take a 32-27 lead with 3:50 left in the third, capped by a transition bucket from Logan Vander Velden and a driving basket from Vogel.

Frankton battled back with a 7-0 run later in the quarter to take a 38-34 lead into the fourth quarter.

“I think we had some unforced turnovers, and they executed,” Wright said. “That’s what good teams do. When you make some uncharacteristic turnovers, and we only had 10, those three or four there in a row were really big. They scored on all of them. That’s something we have to learn from.”

The Eagles never trailed in the fourth, but Wabash got within one at 52-51 with 2:18 left to play on a Vogel 3-pointer from the right wing.

Key responded with a driving bucket with 1:43 left to put Frankton ahead 54-51.

Ethan Bates then hit 1 of 2 free throws after Wabash was forced to foul with :50.4 seconds left.

The Eagles then missed the front end of back-to-back one-and-one opportunities, giving Wabash hopes of a comeback.

Vogel came up big again, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 14 seconds left to pull the Apaches within one at 55-54.

Wabash was forced to foul again, and Jon Hatzell hit both free throws in the double bonus scenario for Frankton.

Trailing 57-54, Wabash had a pair of looks from beyond the arc that would’ve tied the game.

Daughtry missed a step-back 3 in the closing seconds, but the ball went out of bounds off of Frankton, giving the Apaches, one more shot with .7 seconds left.

Jasper Walter received the inbound pass and fired a 3-pointer from the right wing, but it hit the rim and bounced away.

“I thought we did a pretty good job,” Wright said of the end of game scenario. “We had some shots in there. I’ll take the blame for that. I probably could’ve called a timeout. I was pleased with how we executed that last play. It was either going to be Jasper shooting or Trenton, and they did what we thought they were going to do. Jasper had a great look at it, it just didn’t go in for us.

“I thought down the stretch, besides two possessions, that we did a pretty good job. We never got flustered. They went on some runs on us, and they never got flustered when we went on a run on them. It was two pretty evenly matched teams. The score indicated that.”

Daughtry led the Apaches with 25 points, four steals and four assists. Vogel added 11 points and six rebounds. Elijah Vander Velden finished with eight points and five rebounds, and Logan Vander Velden added six points and three assists.

The loss put an end to a season where the Apaches won their first sectional title since 1967 and first outright conference title since 1946.

“Winning those championships are nice, but to be the head coach of this team is an honor because of how hard they worked,” Wright said of his team. They earned those championships. When you see how hard they work every day, that’s what makes me the most proud, and how they handled themselves off the court. It’s been a pleasure. You have nothing to keep your head down about. I know it hurts now, but they are awesome young men. That’s what I’m most proud about.”

The program will have to say goodbye to Logan Vander Velden and Blake Gribben, whom it will lose to graduation.

“We’re going to miss their effort,” Wright said. “They didn’t light up the scoreboard as much, but you need guys like that. Blake was on the JV as a sophomore and worked his way up. Logan has been one the hardest workers I’ve ever seen at any level. How hard he just works – we have some big shoes to fill with just that effort and leadership. I’m very proud of them. There aren’t enough words to describe how proud I am of those two, and the young men they’re turning out to be.”

Posted on 2019 Mar 12