Tigers pressure Wesclin into submission
Herrin forces 19 Warrior turnovers in 56-49 win @ NIT

NASHVILLE - After playing a brutal schedule of contests, the Herrin Tigers came into the Nashville Invitational Tournament with just a 6-11 mark. However with recent wins over Harrisburg and Johnston City, Coach Mike Mooneyham's club was looking at having a good showing in its first trip to the NIT.

But after three and a half quarters of play in its game against Trenton-Wesclin Thursday night in the consolation semifinals, the Tigers looked like they were going to lose its second contest of the week.

But a fired up final run, spurned on by its trapping defense, put Herrin in the victory column once again.

Led by Casey Morris' 22-points and the stellar outside game of Kyle Walker, Herrin overcame a 13-point deficit to outgun Wesclin in the final minutes to pull out a 56-49 win.

The 6-5 Morris hit the boards hard on Thursday night, especially on the offensive glass. His rebound bucket off of a Cody Dunbar miss gave the Tigers its first lead of the contest at 43-41 with 3:33 left in regulation.

After Wesclin's David Meyer evened the score with a baseline drive on the next Warriors trip, the 5-9 junior lefty Walker put the Tigers on top for good with a 3-pointer from the right wing at the 2:38 mark.

Herrin's Mike James came up with a steal in the Warriors offensive end and sprinted to the Tigers basket where Wesclin's Tyler Kehrer fouled him.

James made both charities to extend the advantage to 48-43.

Wesclin made one last run at Herrin late in the game when Kehrer and Keith Kunz scored on back-to-back possessions. Kunz's steal and lay in at :47.8 cut the Herrin lead to 51-48.

But the Tigers polished off Wesclin by making 5-of-6 free throws in the last :32.5 to notch the victory to advance to Saturday afternoon's consolation title game.

"We switched defenses in the second half and went to a 1-2-2 half court trap and that bothered them (Wesclin) some," said Mooneyham. "That gave them some problems and they didn't get many open looks. We created some turnovers and we got points at the other end."

The Warriors (6-13) were the team that appeared ready in the opening half as they jumped all over Herrin from the opening tap.

Early baskets by Kunz and Kehrer staked T-W to early lead.

Kunz picked up a steal and found Kehrer on the run on a fast break. His lay in with 1:59 to go in the opening frame gave the Warriors to an 8-2 lead, forcing a Herrin timeout.

Those two players stayed hot in the second quarter as well. Both hit 3-pointers during an 8-0 run to give the Warriors their biggest advantage of the game at 26-13 with 4:27 remaining until halftime.

But Herrin carved part of that deficit away before intermission as guard Derek Sherrill hit his only 3-pointer of the game and James hit two free throws to finish the half at 28-20 Wesclin.

Both teams came out after the intermission and struggled offensively in a stagnant third quarter.

After Wesclin's Kyle Pakosta canned a 3-pointer from the left corner and Herrin's Dunbar hit 1-of-2 free throws to make the score 34-25 Warriors, neither team scored in a 3:16 stretch.

Wesclin's Meyer broke the scoring drought with a baseline drive for a basket with 1:32 left to make it 36-25.

However at this point of the proceedings, the Tigers shifted into another gear and changed the momentum of the contest.

Herrin scored the final five points of the quarter with Walker and Sherrill scoring on consecutive Tiger chances.

Morris hit the back end of a two-shot opportunity to make it 36-30 heading to the fourth quarter.

Morris converted on a conventional 3-point play to open the final period while being fouled by Meyer.

After Pakosta hit a 3-pointer on an inbounds play in the left corner at 7:10 to go, Herrin took over with its final run.

Morris hit a shot from the right side block while James again came up with a steal and lay up.

Although a Brent Shomaker basket for Wesclin with 5:57 to play gave the Warriors a 41-37 advantage, Morris and Walker scored the next nine points for the Tigers to start its final push to victory.

"I can't say enough about these kids. They play hard and they rebound," added Mooneyham, whose team will tackle Mascoutah Saturday afternoon in the consolation title game. "We have played 19 games this season and we have only been out rebounded twice."

The Tigers out boarded Wesclin 31-21 Thursday night and forced the Warriors into 19 turnovers.

Morris' 22-points was a game high while Dunbar and Walker added 11 and 10.

Kehrer topped Wesclin (6-13) with 15-points while Kunz pitched in 14.


Herrin (56) - Walker 2 1 3-6 10, Dunbar 1 0 9-14 11, Sherrill 1 1 2-2 7, James 1 0 4-4 6, Morris 10 0 2-3 22. 2FG-15, 3FG-2, FT-20-29, PF-12.
Trenton-Wesclin (49) - Pakosta 1 2 0-0 8, Shomaker 2 0 0-0 4, Kehrer 2 2 5-7 15, Kunz 4 2 0-0 14, Meyer 2 0 2-4 6, Farmer 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-12, 3FG-6, FT-7-11, PF-23.
Fouled Out - Walker, Herrin; Shomaker and Meyer, Trenton-Wesclin.