Entering Tuesday night, I had seen all the SVC teams except Southeastern and Adena play a regular season game. With the Panthers and Warriors squaring off in a head-to-head match-up in Frankfort, I decided to travel out to the home of the two-shade blue to take a look.
Just as I thought in the preview, Adena is a much improved basketball team from a year ago. I thought Adenaâ€™s defensive effort was solid this evening, but the Warriors struggled getting anything going on the offensive end. Southeastern was able to take advantage of a fast start as the Panthers rolled to a 51- 39 win.
I thought the key to the entire night was the overall athleticism of Southeasternâ€™s Tyler Osborne. The senior guard was extremely active at the point of Southeasternâ€™s defensive pressure, and he had the Panthers out in transition early and often. Southeastern recorded 18 total steals, and I would venture to say they probably recorded nearly 35 to 40 deflections as it seemed like Osborne or a teammate touched the basketball on every Adena offensive possession.
The great defensive performance allowed Southeastern to open up a 26-10 lead at halftime. Adena did have some success in the second half attacking some holes in the Southeastern defense, and at one point Adena cut the lead to 48-38. Down 10, the Warriors had the ball four times, but in all four instances, they came away empty as Southeastern extended their lead back to 14 and eventually won by 12.
The Warriors do have some offensive ability when they take care of the ball. Auston Hottinger, Tyler Cory, and Michael Bryant all had nine points Tuesday night to lead Adena. Hottinger and Cory are both solid perimeter shooters and Bryant is a wonderful athlete on the baseline and on the offensive glass. The problem with Adenaâ€™s offense is simply passing and catching. The Warriors had trouble developing any consistency in terms of getting good looks at the basket because Southeastern continuously deflected passes and pushed the Warriors well out beyond the three-point line.
Another big key in the second half was Osborneâ€™s ability to get to the glass. It seemed like Osborne got to the paint on nearly every second half possession. He shot 11 free throws in the win â€“ made nine â €“ and he scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter. He also finished the third quarter with a drive and dish to Will Gullion who knocked down a left corner jumper at the buzzer. Gullion scored seven points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
The biggest thing for Adena is to continue to get better. Without a senior on the roster, Adena is obviously better than a year ago. If they can continue to get better on the offensive end, their defense is going to give them a chance to win a few games especially on nights they can get some shots to go down early.
As for Southeastern, I see a lot of reason of optimism. They still havenâ€™t played a full game with their complete roster. Tuesday was the first full game in which Osborne started and played a lead role and he responded with a great performance. Hopefully, Michael Brown will return soon. Brown missed Tuesdayâ €™s game with an injury and his availability for this weekend is still unknown. You combine these two all- league talents with the solid role players of Gullion, Nick Kellough, Steven Hall, and others, and I feel Southeastern is going to have an opportunity to compete for a top-half spot in this yearâ€™s SVC. Even if they are not able to get over the hump in the league, this is a team that has the personnel that makes for a tough out in tournament play.