DIETERICH -- Okaw Valley started the 33rd annual boys' basketball Dieterich Holiday Tournament with two victories, using a strong second half in a 50-31 win over Christ Our Rock Lutheran and causing 29 turnovers in a 52-42 triumph over Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City.
The Timberwolves, 6-6, are to finish Pool A play Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. when they take on Newton, the top seeded team in the tournament.
"We have a chance to maybe play in the championship if we take care of business Wednesday night," said Okaw Valley coach Brooks Inman. "You know Newton is a quality opponent. We are missing two of our top six players, but our young guys are really coming around and we played a lot of minutes today. We have to go home and rest and be ready for Wednesday night because it will be a war and we will have to play one of our best games of the season."
The day started off with Dieterich recording the school's 1,000 win in program history with a 74-34 triumph over Oblong. The program started in 1957.
The tournament concludes Thursday with the championship set for 8 p.m.
Okaw Valley 52, Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City 42
Okaw Valley, which extended its winning streak to three games, never trailed in the game and led by as much as 15 with 2:15 left in the third quarter. The Timberwolves led by 11 with 2:57 left in the game when the Hornets rallied to within five with a 9-3 run over a span of 1:04. Okaw Valley didn't let them get closer as Jared Bunfill hit a pair of free throws and a basket and Sam Hagerman made one of two free throws as the Timberwolves closed out the game with the final five points.
It wasn't a thing of beauty by any means," said Inman. "You know it was the second game of the day and we had some foul trouble in that game when we are already short guys due to injury. We had two starters foul out. I thought our bench guys really stepped up. I thought Hutson Dickens played quality minutes and Camden Coleman and Luke VanderBurgh as well. Camden is really coming around as a ball player and it was really the first time Luke played some varsity action. I thought those guys came in and did a nice job. We just have to learn how to finish people off. When we have younger guys in there they have to do some learning on the fly. Ultimately, a win is a win whether it is pretty or not. You will take everyone you can get."
Okaw Valley used an 8-0 run late in the first quarter to early in the second as Trey Yarnell sank a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 14-11 lead. Bunfill opened the scoring in the second quarter with a three-point play and Sam Hagerman's basket off a turnover made it 19-11.
The Bobcats, who were 20-of-23 free throws (.870) for the game, made four straight and a steal and layup by Keegan Martin made it 20-17. The Timberwovles led 27-19 at the half and their 2-3 zone and trapping press caused the Hornets to turn the ball over 16 times to Okaw Valley's eight in the opening half.
CHBC started the second half in a man-to-man defense after playing a 2-3 zone in the first half.
Okaw Valley took its largest lead, 35-20 on a basket by Cole Nichols with 2:15 left in the third.
CHBC trailed 37-28 after three quarter and it looked like Okaw Valley was in good shape after a pair of free throws by Bunfill made it 44-30 with 4:22 remaining in the game.
"Our defense was sloppy at times," said Inman. "Situationally we didn't do a good job. We fouled late, stopped the clock and giving them free throws. We just have to do a better job of executing on the defensive end and really finishing out possessions without fouling."
Bunfill led all players with a season-high 25 points and made all four of the teams field goals in the fourth quarter and in fact he had 14 of the 15 points. "Jared has really stepped up his game as far as being aggressive on the offensive end, which is what we expected all year," said Inman. "We got to 50 twice today, which is great for us. We struggled at times. Commend Jared, he has taken the role of getting the ball and finishing. A lot of the credit goes to him."
Okaw Valley 50, Christ Our Rock Lutheran 31
Okaw Valley led 20-15 at the half before outscoring the Stallions 18-7 in the third as Austin Hill had six of his eight points to give the Timberwovles a 38-22 advantage going into the final quarter.
"We played pretty well," said Inman. "In the second half we really imposed our will and did a nice job. Only giving up 31 points was great. Defense has been our staple. We have to be good defensively. We played really well defensively."
Bunfill and Sam Hagerman finished in double digits with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
The 31 points was the second lowest allowed by Okaw Valley this season.