Tim Fries looked around the Miamisburg locker room at halftime Friday night and saw a squad wondering what was going on.
The Vikings, playing for the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division title, had scored just 15 points in the first half at home against Lebanon.
“They knew they were playing for the championship,” Fries said after the Vikings improved to 16-4 overall and 6-4 in the GWOC. “They were really quiet, but we just talked about being less passive and got them ready to go.”
Miamisburg equaled its first-half output in the third quarter alone, turning a 16-15 halftime deficit into a 41-29 win.
After a first half that saw the teams tied at 8-8 after one quarter and Lebanon eek out a one-point lead at the half, the Vikings found their groove.
The Warriors got an early basket from Drew Sekerak for a 18-15 lead, but they would be the last points of the third quarter for Lebanon.
Brett Hensley gave Miamisburg its first lead, 19-18, on a basket with 6:00 remaining in the third quarter.
Miamisburg took off from there with Corey Hartman draining back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 25-18 with 4:20 left as part of a 15-0 run to take a 30-18 lead into the final quarter.
“We didn’t think it would be a high-scoring game, but we weren’t aggressive and we didn’t make shots,” Lebanon coach Kevin Higgins said after his team fell to 13-6 overall and 4-6 in GWOC play. “We just didn’t play really well and we had a couple of big defensive lapses, like when (Hartman) hit those threes.”
Lebanon started the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run behind a pair of baskets by Sekerak to cut the lead to 30-24, but couldn’t retain any momentum as Jason Hubbard ran off four of the next seven points for Miamisburg to push the lead to 37-24 with 3:04 remaining.
“We just came out of the locker room with a complete change in attitude,” Fries said. “We knew both of us were really good defensive teams and it could be a low-scoring game. Good shots were hard to come by.”
Hubbard led the Vikings with 15 points after scoring five in the first half while Lebanon was led by Zach Huffman with 11.
The Warriors shot 33 percent from the floor, converting 12 of 36, including 3-for-17 from three and two of eight from the foul line.
The title is Miamisburg’s first since 2014 and comes after the Vikings struggled under .500 and near the bottom of the division the past three years, including back-to-back 2-8 seasons.
The difference has been chemistry.
“This is my 11th year and this is as tight of a team as I have ever had,” Fries said. “I have had other teams with really good players, but this a true team. They put the team above themselves man to man. Well, man to manager. They are close and in this together.”