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Raiders win 47-37, advance to district final
Local Sports
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 3:17 PM

VAN WERT — Wayne Trace came into Tuesday night’s game with Pettisville standing at 650 wins in school history.

Although the Raiders posted victory number 651 over the Blackbirds, it may be one of the ugliest ones on the Wayne Trace resume.

The Raiders seemed to sleepwalk through the majority of the game, struggling to find any type of consistency or intensity before pulling away late to post a 47-37 victory in the Division IV district semifinal.

Wayne Trace advances to take on fellow Green Meadows Conference member Ayersville in Friday’s district championship contest, an opponent that the Raiders will have to be much better against to have an opportunity to reach regional play next week.

“We didn’t play well tonight, there is no doubt about that,” commented Raider head coach Jim Linder. “We have to be a much better basketball team on Friday.”

The Raiders jumped in front 8-2 early on before baskets by Tate Kauffman and Korben Rychener got the Blackbirds within 8-6. However, a late basket by Raider senior Colby Speice put the Raiders on top 10-6 after eight minutes of action.

Pettisville took its only lead of the contest at the 6:01 mark of the second quarter as a Rychener trey put the Blackbirds on top 11-10. Wayne Trace quickly answered with a Jake Arend basket and a Luke Miller trey to post a 15-11 advantage, but the Raider run was short lived. Two Austin Dykstra foul shots, baskets by Rychener and Dykstra and one of two free throws from Rychener pulled the Blackbirds into an 18-18 tie at the intermission.

“One thing tonight was we just have to make better decisions,” Linder continued. “But you have to give Pettisville credit as well. They continued to battle all night long and they played hard.”

The Raiders opened the second half with a 13-2 spurt, opening a 31-20 advantage with 1:23 left in the quarter. Wayne Trace got a pair of baskets by Ethan Linder in the spurt along with single baskets from David Sinn and Colby Speice. Corbin Linder also had a trey and Jake Arend added two free throws.

“It was a big run for us,” stated Linder. “We needed to generate some energy and we were able to do that for a little bit there.”

Jeremy Mann did give the Blackbirds a lift, though, heading into the fourth quarter, as his trey got Pettisville within 31-23 after three periods. Rychener’s basket with 4:58 left in the contest pulled the Blackbirds within 37-32, but Wayne Trace answered with four straight Ethan Linder foul shots to push the margin to 41-32. The Blackbirds would never get closer than six from there.

A pair of Josh Liechty foul shots pulled Pettisville within 43-37 before the Raiders sealed the win by hitting four of their final six charity tosses.

“We survived, and that’s what you have to do right now,” concluded the Raider coach. “But we are going to have to do a better job on Friday.”

Ethan Linder and David Sinn scored 15 and 11 points for the Raiders, who move on with a record of 21-3. Colby Speice added eight points, three assists, three rebounds and four steals and Devin Wenzlick chipped in nine boards and four steals.

Pettisville out-rebounded the Raiders 29-26 on the night, but also committed more turnovers, 22-12. Wayne Trace was 15-for-40 from the field (38 percent) while the Blackbirds were 14-for-35 (40 percent).

Wayne Trace will take on Ayersville (18-7) in the district championship game Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets will be sold from 7:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 in the study hall at Wayne Trace High School. Tickets will also be sold at the high school on Friday from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Presale tickets are $4 for students and $6 for adults. All tickets at the door will be $6.