The Miami Trace Panthers boys basketball team is spending this week preparing for their District semifinal game against the Fairfield Union Falcons.
The Panthers, now with a record of 16-8, will face the Falcons, champions of the Mid-State League (with a record of 20-4) Friday at 8 p.m. at the Convocation Center at Ohio University in Athens.
Miami Trace defeated the Waverly Tigers 43-36 in the Sectional semifinals and then punched their ticket to Athens with a 40-39 win over the Washington Blue Lions in the Sectional championship game.
Fairfield Union (located in Lancaster) began its tournament run with an 87-75 win over Marietta.
The No. 1 seeded Falcons then beat Meigs 59-47 to win the Sectional title at Logan High School.
The Panthers’ Sectional title was the 13th in school history and first since 2013.
Three years ago, the Panthers won the Sectional title, 57-50 over Waverly.
They moved on to the District, beating Logan Elm, 48-41 before falling in the finals to Athens, 64-54.
The Panthers have won four District championships in school history: 1998, 1993, 1978 and 1973. They were District runners-up in 2013, 1991 and 1967.
Miami Trace and Fairfield Union had two common opponents this season: Logan Elm and Unioto.
The Falcons lost at home to Logan Elm 58-45 on Dec. 4; on Jan. 16, Fairfield Union won at Logan Elm, 46-43.
On Dec. 29, Fairfield Union lost at Unioto, 66-47.
The Panthers lost at Unioto on Feb. 6, 88-55.
Miami Trace hosted Logan Elm on Dec. 19 and won that game, 70-64.
“We’ve seen Fairfield Union play four times this year,” Miami Trace head coach Rob Pittser said. “We feel like we’ve got a pretty good feel for what they’re going to do.
“They have a tremendous post player,” Pittser said, referring to 6-5 sophomore Colin Woodside. “They are probably the only team, or at least the first team this year that we’ve played, that runs most of their offense through the post. They really look for him in transition.”
Woodside had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Falcons in the game against Meigs.
“They’re going to dump it down in the block almost every time they bring the ball up the floor,” Pittser said. “A lot of their set actions are for him. And, they have some kids that can really shoot.
“To give (Woodside) a lot of attention means we’ll have to leave kids (open) who are capable of making 25-foot shots,” Pittser said. “They are a really, really solid club. They are well-coached (by Alex Eversole).
“They are very elaborate on offense,” Pittser said. “They run a lot of college-style sets. We’ll have to be very disciplined with what we do defensively. We won’t be able to take a lot of risks. They will be a real challenge.”
Pittser spoke about his team playing in the spacious Convocation Center.
“We’ve tried to get in a couple of different environments this week to get on bigger floors,” Pittser said. “Up to this point, we’ve had two really good days (of practice). It’s a big break this time of year to have most of the week to prepare.
“All things considered, the guys have done well,” Pittser said. “The practices have been pretty crisp. We may try to get into another unfamiliar environment tomorrow for practice, if we can.
“The Convo is a neat situation for kids to get to play in,” Pittser said. “You don’t worry so much about the difference in terms of, ‘oh, wow, it’s different to shoot here.’ It’s just enjoyable to play there and it’s a neat opportunity for the kids.”
Tickets for the game are on sale at the high school Thursday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and again Thursday evening, from 5 until 8 p.m. and again Friday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Tickets are $6 each and the school gets to keep a portion of the proceeds from tickets they sell prior to the game. The school gets none of the money from ticket sales at the Convo.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1