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  • Val T.

Buschman, Pogue’s big 4th quarters help North White knock out Caston

Spin, Smith score 15 each for Caston; Rudicel adds 10


Sports Editor, RTC

WOLCOTT — Caston boys basketball coach Carl Davis speaks as a humble servant when he talks about his players.

He talks about how much he learns from them, especially his five senior starters, seemingly more than they talk about how much they learn from him.

But when they play North White, they are seemingly looking in a mirror. And in their Class 1A, Sectional 52 semifinal at Tri-County Friday, it was North White who prevailed to end a run of a senior class that rejuvenated Caston basketball.

Bentley Buschman scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-point play with 55.5 seconds left as the Vikings pulled out a 63-59 win.

Hunter Pogue hit five 3-pointers and added 19, and Jeffery Stevens added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Joey Spin and Sam Smith had 15 points each to lead Caston, and Bryce Rudicel added 10.

North White, ranked No. 5 and champions of the Midwest Conference, won their 15th consecutive game and improved to 20-3.

They will play PIoneer in the sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Caston, champions of the Hoosier North, finished 15-8 and had their streak of two straight sectional titles snapped.

The 15 wins were Caston’s most in nine years.

There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter. Spin spun and served up a lefty hook in the paint to tie it at 56 with 1:08 left.

Pogue advanced the ball to the foul line and feathered a pass to Buschman on the left block, who was fouled by Smith while banking in the go-ahead layup. Smith fouled out on the play, and Buschman sank the free throw to make it 59-56.

Then Buschman stole a Cain Schanlaub pass and was fouled with 43.5 seconds left. He split a pair of free throws to extend the lead to four. It was Caston’s only turnover in the fourth quarter and one of just five for the game.

Caston’s Kade Zeider drilled a 3-pointer with 24.5 seconds left to make it 60-59, but Pogue, who also scored 11 in the fourth quarter, made two free throws with 21/6 seconds left to make it 62-59.

Caston worked a weave play to get Zeider a look at a 3, but his off-balance heave was an air ball that landed out of bounds, and Buschman split a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

Buschman and Pogue, both of whom are 1,000-point scorers and each of whom averages 17 points per game, combined for eight points in the first half and 31 in the second half.

“They got more aggressive,” Davis said of North White’s scoring duo. “Buschman’s was a lot on the back end on offensive rebounds. They did a really good job of sneaking down to that block, and we didn’t rotate as well as we needed to on him, and he got some easy looks at the rim.

“Pogue’s just being Pogue. He’s an incredible basketball player, and he’s been shooting it at over 50 percent from 3. We knew we had to have a hand in his face. I thought for the most part we made North White shoot over us until that offensive rebound. Those were what killed us.”

The game seemingly is the end of an era in the rivalry. Like Caston, North White also starts five seniors.

Caston beat North White 55-54 on Smith’s buzzer beater in last year’s sectional final. North White beat Caston 60-57 in this year’s regular season meeting at Caston on Feb. 7.

“Carl Davis is an amazing coach, and his program is awesome,” North White coach Matt Sipkema said. “We’ve had five battles in the last (three) years. We’re 4-1, in all close battles, but 3-2 wouldn’t have mattered when he got the two that count. I told my boys it’s great, but congratulations, you just made it as far as last year.”

Caston led by as many as nine in the second quarter, and they still led 45-40 on two Smith free throws with 7:48 left.

But Pogue hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions – the second came on a crossover, step-back move out of the Trae Young playbook – to give North White a 46-45 lead with 6:21 left.

It was their first lead since the first quarter.

A Nathan Miller free throw gave North White a 47-45 lead, but Schanlaub broke a scoring drought that lasted 3:18 with a left baseline turnaround in the post.

Pogue air-balled a 3-point try that Buschman caught and put back up and in while being fouled. His ensuing free throw made it 50-47.

Rudicel scored on a drive from the mid-post, but another Buschman driving 3-point play made it 53-49. Smith muscled home a bucket in the post, and when Rudicel drove left baseline and used the rim to ward off defenders while converting a 3-point play, Caston led 54-53 with 2:02 left.

Buschman stepped out of bounds with 1:45 left, but Zeider missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:44 left.

Pogue drilled another trey from the left wing with 1:18 left to give the Vikings a 56-54 lead.

Spin, who sat briefly with 4:30 left after picking up his fourth foul, then used his off hand to tie the game.

“I’m really happy that our guys competed the way they did,” Davis said. “They competed for 32 minutes and gave themselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”

Stevens scored eight points in the first quarter, but Caston went on a 10-0 run covering the first and second quarters – the run included buckets on back-to-back possessions from Schanlaub and a Spin shake-and-bake move before hitting a midrange jumper at the first-quarter buzzer – to take an 18-12 lead.

Part of the challenge for opponents of North White is defending the high-ball screen. Pogue, who is listed at 5-8 and who is a four-year starter at point guard, will sometimes use the screen, will sometimes go away from the screen and will sometimes just step back and shoot the 3.

As North White prepared for this game, Sipkema told Pogue to watch Smith’s feet if Smith switched out on him. If Smith did not jump out on him, shoot the 3.

From Caston’s standpoint, they could not do the same thing every time.

“We mixed it up a little bit,” Davis said of the ball-screen defense. “It wasn’t the same all game long. With guards as good as they have, you have to mix it up and hope they don’t get comfortable and get in a rhythm against it. … I thought defensively, guys did a real good job of communicating tonight.”

Pogue’s two 3-pointers in the second quarter after a scoreless first quarter cut the margin to 25-22, but a Spin 3-point play and Jake Paschen’s triple from the left corner got the lead to 31-22.

The Caston lead was 31-24 at halftime, but North White inched within 35-34 on a Buschman layup before a Caston four-point possession – it included buckets from Rudicel and Smith sandwiched around a Smith offensive rebound of a Rudicel missed free throw – restored a five-point lead.

“Honestly, my first thought after that horn is that I don’t get to go to practice with them tomorrow,” Davis said. “And that’s hard. That’s harder than anything else. Just being around them every day makes me better.”

North White 63, Caston 59

CASTON (59) (15-8)

Joey Spin 6 3-3 15, Kade Zeider 1 0-1 3, Bryce Rudicel 4 2-4 10, Jake Paschen 2 0-0 6, Sam Smith 5 5-6 15, Colby Pugh 1 0-0 2, Cain Schanlaub 4 0-0 8, Caleb Stinson 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 23 10-14 59

NORTH WHITE (63) (20-3)

Hunter Pogue 6 2-2 19, Isaiah Denton 0 0-0 0, Bentley Buschman 6 8-12 20, Nathan Miller 3 2-4 8, Jeffery Stevens 8 0-4 16, Dane Hood 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 23 12-22 63

Three-point field goals:

Caston 3 (Paschen 2, Zeider),

North White 5 (Pogue 5)

Total fouls: Caston 18, North White 14

Fouled out: Smith (CAS), :55.5, fourth

Turnovers: Caston 5, North White 9

Score by quarters

Caston 16 15 12 16 – 59

North White 12 12 16 23 – 63

Watch full game here:

Sam Smith Joey Spin

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