Historic season for Preble Shawnee ends in OHSAA DIII State Final Four

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Preble Shawnee season ends in the State Final 4. It was an historic season for the Arrows reaching the state final for the first time in school history. (Dale Barger photo)

DAYTON – Preble Shawnee was unable to overcome a 17-0 deficit to start the game against the defending OHSAA DIII State Champions Cleveland Heights Lutheran East.  The Arrows played even with “The LUE” the final 3 quarters but bowed out in their first ever State Final Four appearance 63-44.

“We got out to a slow start adjusting to their physicality and speed.  We haven’t seen a team like that in a long time. We sped up on offense way too much, took some bad shots, missed some easy ones and gave up some easy ones. But honestly, the difference in the game was the first quarter because our whole game plan had to change up really quick,” Preble Shawnee coach Jake Turner said.

Shawnee finally got on the board at 1:26 in the first quarter on two free throws by Mason Shrout and trailed 19-2 heading into the second frame.

The Arrows settled in adjusting enough to run some offense in the 2nd quarter with freshman Knox Mills getting their 1st field goal on a triple in the corner at 6:59.

Knox Mills Triple early in 2nd quarter was the 1st field goal in the game for Preble Shawnee. (Dale Barger photo)

But Lutheran East was doing everything they could to deny Shrout holding him without a field goal in the 1sthalf and just 4 points at the free throw line.

Lutheran East didn’t make it easy for anyone else either with quick guards out front or a looming presence inside with 6-10” Jesse McCullough a fellow Ohio Mr. Basketball Nominee and Michigan State signee.

The Arrows knew they had to attack, and Brody Morton scored 4 points going to the rim absorbing the body of McCullough, but Shawnee was behind 31-13 at the half.

Brody Morton decided someone had to step up and he did it attacking the rim and the size and strength of Lutheran Heights. (Dale Barger photo)

Preble Shawnee came out after the break, and they would give their fans which appeared to be nearly half of Preble County something to cheer about.

The Arrows came up firing with Mason Shrout finally scoring for the first time from the field on triple at 7:09 and Morton would continue to come up big driving into the lane as the duo was able to narrow the lead down to 10, 37-27 at 3:26 amping up the noise level with the help of Arrow nation now engaged in the game.

The LUE wasn’t going to make life easy on Shrout challenging him on every shot. (Dale Barger photo)

But the Falcons would respond with a run of their own and by the end of the 3rd quarter Shawnee gained just two points down 45-29.

Mason Shrout explained why the Arrows were able to compete better over the last 3 quarters.

“We slowed things down a little bit, handled the pressure a little bit better. We didn’t just get across half court putting our heads down and dribbling as fast as we could. We kind of pulled it out a little bit got into our sets. And I feel like when we get into our sets we can compete with anybody. And we showed that the last three quarters,” Shrout stated.

But in order to make up for the slow start the Arrows would have to play perfect and get lots of stops to make up the ground, playing even wasn’t going to do it.

In the final frame they had to gamble, and Lutheran was able to get easy buckets including several dunks by McCullough who scored 16 points in the game.  His teammate Ronald Taylor who has an offer from Kent State had 21 to lead all scorers.

Shawnee was unable to make up the ground falling 63-44 ending an historic season for the Arrows.

Mason Shrout finished with 18 points and a great performance from sophomore Brody Morton who scored 16.

Morton talked after the game about his performance and the motivation behind it.

“I just kind of thought that I would do it for my seniors. My dad told me before the game do it for the seniors and for Isaac, obviously. If something’s not going right, just look over at Isaac or look over at the seniors and just play for them. So that’s what I did, after the first quarter I just looked in their eyes and kind of stepped it up because I was playing for them,” Morton commented.

It didn’t go unnoticed by Mason Shrout who wanted to expand upon his teammates comment.

“That’s what I’m talking about, this team, this community. All week it was let’s play for each other. Let’s play for Isaac … and for a sophomore, to have that kind of mindset looking at the seniors and playing for them. It just shows how tight we were, how close as a group we were. And I don’t think I don’t think a day went by where any of us were dreading going to practice. We were excited to get in the gym, with our boys, have another practice, have another opportunity to get better. It shows you what kind of program coach Turner and coach Thomas and coach Rob and Coach Shanefelt are building,” Shrout added.

Coach Jake Turner summarized the season.

Coach Turner before there game was smiling and soaking in the moment … but the pain of their loss was difficult to deal with after knowing it was the last time he would coach this special team. (Dale Barger photo)

“I told them in the locker room after the game, obviously I’m a little upset with the loss. But it’s not the main reason … I’m upset that this is the last time that I’m going to get to coach this team.  This team is special man they’re a special group that I love to death. I love these guys to death. It’s just been a lot of fun. The community support this week has just been amazing.  The last month and a half being able to obviously spend a lot more time with the team bonding, obviously, we wanted to win tonight, you know, we wanted more but the memories we’ve made together, made for this community and bringing them together, it’s something these guys are never going to forget.  There were a lot of people here tonight supporting us, they love their basketball, they love their sports and they’re a big part of our success.  We are thankful for and appreciate them,” Turner explained.

It marks the last time Preble Shawnee will get to see Mason Shrout, Logan Hawley and Case Roell in an Arrows uniform … but their legacy will live on forever in an historic season that saw their 24-4 team win a league title, holiday tournament, sectional, district and regional championships and for the first time ever in school history reach the state final four.

Brothers for Life. (Dale Barger photo)

Mason Shrout took a moment with his two senior teammates to console one another as the game was ending down to an end.

“Those two guys and I have been together since sixth grade, we played together, got better together in the gym in the summer together, hanging out outside of basketball, just kicking it and doing whatever. And I just put my arms around them, told them I love them. I told them that we have nothing to hold our heads about we made this community proud we made this county proud. We made each other proud. And I told him that I was blessed to be graduating and have a senior group as nice as them and as good as them. And it was just a blessing to have those two guys with me all the time,” Mason Shrout said.

There will be no question how special Shrout has been and those who were able to witness history with Mason Shrout being named a Mr. Ohio Basketball finalist and Shrout breaking county and school individual records.  Shrout scored over 2000 points, 1000 rebounds all records along with a record for assist and single game scoring.

Fortunately, Shrout will get to continue his career at  division one Indiana Purdue University in college.

It was a magical run for the Arrows, one that will be talked about for many years to come.

Congratulations Preble Shawnee on a fantastic season.

The Cheerleaders, Student Section and fans were like the 6th man for Preble Shawnee all year long. (Dale Barger photo)