The Movin' Maroons stand just 32 minutes from history.
On Saturday, head coach Jeff Staser and his boys' basketball team will attempt to do something that has not yet been done in the 78-year history of the NTC Tournament: bring the title home to Dieterich.
The Maroons reached the final after a 78-61 victory Thursday night over Cowden-Herrick in a game that more closely resembled a track meet than a basketball game. Each team relentlessly pushed the basketball up and down the court in the semi-final match-up, hoisting up shots at a dizzying pace.
"We want to be the fastest team from free-throw line to free-throw line," Staser said. "The kids came out and said we're going to do that tonight."
Yet the first ten minutes of the game belonged to Cowden-Herrick and guard Ethan Schoonover. Schoonover buried four three-pointers by the six-minute mark of the second quarter, and the Hornets had opened up an early 30-21 lead.
"We knew that they were going to play the zone," Hornets' coach Bruce Manola said. "That says 'hey', shoot from the outside. That's what we tried to do, and the three was falling for us."
After Schoonover's fourth and final trifecta of the half, it was Dieterich's turn to take charge. The Maroons embarked on a 21-2 run to end the half, creating a 42-32 advantage as the teams headed to the break. Dieterich guard Dalton Hinterscher started to find a rhythm, scoring 10 points to lead all scorers in the quarter.
"Our guards are pretty good," Staser said. "The key for us is to get in our spots, spot-up and shoot the ball."
The back-and-forth battle continued in the third, when Cowden-Herrick scored ten straight points. After three minutes of play in the second half, the Hornets had battled all the way back to a 42-42 tie.
"They came back out and had a great game plan," Staser said, "But our guys took care of business after that."
Hinterscher was an offensive magician after the tie, scoring in a multitude of ways to give Dieterich the lead. The guard scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and Dieterich's blistering offense eventually wore down their opposition. The Maroons assaulted the Cowden-Herrick basket for 23 points in the final frame, and Hinterscher finished the day with a staggering 36 points.
"He's a special player," Staser said, "there's no doubt. He's worked all summer to get where's he is at."
The Maroons also benefitted from two other scorers in double-digits. Junior Tanner Traub scored 11 points on the night, and Alex Bohnhoff delivered a 10-point performance as well.
For Cowden-Herrick, Schoonover scored a team-high 20 points for the Hornets, and Luke Moore recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Colton Burrus played above his years for Manola's squad, scoring 16 points from his forward position.
Cowden-Herrick falls to 13-7 with the loss, and will play in the third-place game this Saturday.
Dieterich improves to 14-6, and take on the winner of tonight's Stew-Stras vs. Altamont match-up for Saturday night's premier game.
"I told the guys (after the game) that we've worked incredible hard to be here and we deserve this," Staser said. "I told them to come out ready to go on Saturday."
C-H 15 17 15 14 - 61
D 15 27 13 23 - 78
Cowden-Herrick - Schoonover 20, Burrus 16, Moore 16, Heiserman 5, Barnes 2, Morgason 2.
Diterich - Hinterscher 36, Traub 11, Bohnhoff 10, Aherin 9, Westjohn 8, Niemerg 4.