Defense, rebounding key in VHS playoff win

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 4, 2016

Varnado struggled with its shooting, but a big shot to end the third quarter and solid defense and rebounding throughout played key roles in the Wildcats’ 63-43 victory at North Central in the regional round of the Class 1A playoffs.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats hit just 36.2 percent (25-for-69) from the field and 29.4 percent (10-for-34) from the free-throw line.

Varnado coach Brad Oestriecher said the shots weren’t falling, but his team did a great job defensively and on the boards.

Varnado led host North Central 10-5 early.

The Wildcats’ defense limited the No. 21 Class 1A team to just five points through the first 13 minutes of the contest and Varnado still led 16-5 with three minutes left in the first half.

North Central made a run and trimmed Varnado’s lead to 22-16 by halftime.

In the first half, the Wildcats hit just 4-of-19 (21 percent) from the free-throw line.

Varnado continued to lead 38-30 as the third quarter came to a close, but the Wildcats had one more possession and they made the most of it.

Varnado inbounded from under its defensive basket with 3.5 seconds left. D.J. Jefferson came off of a screen and hit a half-court shot to end the period.

“The half-court shot basically captured momentum which carried over for the fourth quarter,” Oestriecher said. “We had a huge fan base at the game and (North Central) had a lot of fans. The atmosphere was intense. After the half-court shot, it kind of took their fans out of it.”

Jefferson had a big night, finishing with 26 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and three steals.

Delrick Abrams posted 19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Andre Jones had 10 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

The win puts Varnado in the quarterfinals, where the Wildcats will play No. 4 Arcadia tonight at 7 p.m.

Arcadia defeated No. 13 Logansport, 63-48.

The winner plays either top-seeded Lafayette Christian or No. 8 Hamilton Christian.