Going into Wednesday’s Class 2A IHSA Boy’s Basketball Regional semifinal game with rival East Richland, aka Olney, coach Phil Leib of host Flora High School predicted a low-scoring affair with defense dominating.
FLORA — Going into Wednesday’s Class 2A IHSA Boy’s Basketball Regional semifinal game with rival East Richland, aka Olney, coach Phil Leib of host Flora High School predicted a low-scoring affair with defense dominating.
So if Leib ever decides to give up his coaching job with the Wolves, he may have a future as a prophet because it was the Wolves D that dominated the Tigers from the opening tip until the final buzzer and led to an upset by No. 3 seed Flora over No. 2 seed East Richland, 49-40.
With the win, Flora is one win away from their first Regional crown since 2005, and come Friday, at the Conley Gym, the Maroons of Robinson are all the stands in the way of the Wolves, now 21-7 on the season, obtaining that goal. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.
And while the defense dominated, you have to score more points to win the game, and while only three Wolves broke into the scoring column, it was enough, especially when one of that trio was Paul Knapp.
Knapp who the hot hand early, late, and in between, scoring 35 of Flora’s 49 points on a series of three-pointers, some from NBA length, and drives to the hoop that often resulted in Olney fouls. The 6-foot-sophomore guard, while not hitting a shot in the second quarter, still managed to put in 10-of-17 shots from the field. And getting to the line, Knapp added 12 more points to the Wolves total on 12-of-14 free-throws.
“He got going and got the rest of us going,” Leib said of Knapp. “I felt if we were able to dictate the tempo, we would be able to control our destiny the rest of the way out.”
Also for Flora, Bryton Krutsinger scored eight points, and Nick Painter six.
Back on defense, Leib said.
“We decide we were going to do one thing defensively, we were not going to let (Mitch) Schonert and (Brandon) Berry beat us , and we didn’t. We did a good job of half-court defense but Schonert, but his offensive prowess, especially on the boards hurt us. We had him doubled at times, but he’s so strong that he stepped right through us. Berry, we just wanted to keep him from getting any kind of a rhythm and for the most part we did that.
“We had our people hollering in practice...Berry , Berry, Berry Schonert, Schonert, because we do a lot of switching on the screens, Olney does such a great job on their post-offense, they are going to run you off of back screens, flare screens and run you ragged.
“So we decided not schluff off on 20 (Derek VanGundy) and 12 (Blake Pampe). It kind of worked. They hit some shots but not enough. That’s the chance that you take , but we made the right gamble.”
Schonert scored 18 points, but Berry was limited to only seven.
Of the Wolves next foe - the Maroons of Robinson, Leib said. “They are a fine club. An athletic club. A state-ranked club. If we run up and down with them, it’s going to be 20 or 30 points real quick. We have to play half-court, but take advantage of the fastbreaks when we can. A lot of people are worried about the 7-footer (Leonard Meyers), but Ben Jones can shoot it and will be a handful, and Derek Hannahs can play and will be a handful. Not just one-dimensional.”
“We just need to fill this place (Conley Gym) with some orange and blue and get the ‘Conley Crazies’ Going. If we do anything, we may cut down some nets.”