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Buscher pleased with Vandals after shootout

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First-year coach sees several positives from his team in first summer shootout; Vandals make tourney quarterfinals

By Andrew Harner

Getting his first look at his team in action, first-year Vandalia boys basketball coach Brian Buscher was left satisfied.

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The Vandals went 4-4 in the first summer shootout, making the tournament quarterfinals after winning a first-round game, 28-22, against Putnam County on Tuesday.

Though the team lost to eventual champion Princeton, Ind., 29-24, in the quarterfinals, wins earlier in the day against Benton and West Frankfort evened the Vandals’ overall shootout record.

“On Monday, we were 1-3, but could have been 3-1,” Buscher said. “We had some guys gone (on Tuesday), but I am more happy than disappointed, because of how we played today.”

Against Putnam County, rising senior Chase Woolsey had a strong outing, twice hitting back-to-back shots, and rising senior Aaron Harter made two straight fastbreak layups late in the game to secure the victory.

Rising senior Michael Wells also added five straight points early in the second half, and he played well through the entire shootout, showing great strides in offensive improvement.

“His strong suit is getting rebounds, but if he gets the ball down low, he plays strong,” Buscher said. “He keeps on battling, and that’s why he plays.”

Wells continued his offensive output in the quarterfinals, scoring six of the Vandals’ first eight points, but

Princeton used a 10-2 run at the start of the second half to get too far ahead for the Vandals to catch up.

Vandalia did get two free throws and a steal and layup from rising senior Leyton Godoyo to get within three points with 12 seconds left, but there wasn’t enough time for the Vandals to score another basket.

Prior to the tournament, Vandalia defeated West Frankfort and Benton in pool play.

Against West Frankfort, the Vandals took a large lead late in the fourth quarter, but the game narrowed over the final five minutes to make it a two-possession victory.

In the first game of the day, another large lead was nearly squandered in a 33-29 victory against Benton.

Vandalia led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, after Godoyo opened the second half with back-to-back layups, but the Vandals’ only basket of the fourth quarter was a layup from rising junior Wade Harre.

In the first half, Wells and Woolsey alternated layups on four straight scoring possessions to build up an 18-4 lead.

On Monday, Vandalia got a shootout-opening, 44-32, win against Fairfield, but lost close games to Jerseyville and Trico, while also falling to Princeton in a lopsided game.

Against Fairfield, Vandalia led by just three entering the final period but used a 13-3 run to take a large lead.

During that run, Wells made four free throws and Godoyo added three.

Woolsey and first-year player Craig Croft added baskets.

“We’re about right where I thought we would be,” Buscher said. “Learning a new offense is hard, but I think they have done a lot of really good things.”

The summer’s second shootout is this Thursday and Friday. The Vandals will field one team on Thursday and two teams on Friday, due to Columbia only being available the first day.

Vandalia’s schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 14
at VJHS
•9 a.m. vs. Arcola
•11:30 a.m. vs. Olney
•2 p.m. vs. Nashville
•5:20 p.m. vs. Christopher

Friday, June 15
Vandalia 1 at VJHS
•9 a.m. vs. Mt. Carmel
•10:40 a.m. vs. North Clay
•12:30 p.m. vs. TBA in tournament play

Friday, June 15
Vandalia 2
•9 a.m. vs. Johnston City (at VES)
•10:40 a.m. vs. Arcola (at VCHS)
•12:30 p.m. vs. TBA in tournament play

Shootout No. 1 Tournament
First round
•Princeton def. West Frankfort
•Vandalia def. Putnam County
•Roxana def. Trico
•Litchfield def. Benton
•Jerseyville def. Hillsboro
•Heritage def. Lebanon
•Altamont def. Johnston City
•Flora def. Fairfield
Quarterfinals
•Princeton def. Vandalia
•Roxana def. Litchfield
•Jerseyville def. Heritage
•Flora def. Altamont
Semifinals
•Princeton def. Roxana
•Flora def. Jerseyville
Finals
•Princeton def. Flora

Pool Play
•Princeton, 6-0
•Jerseyville, 5-1
•Roxana, 5-1
•Litchfield, 5-1
•Flora, 4-2
•Johnston City, 4-2
•Trico, 4-2
•Vandalia, 3-3
•Altamont, 3-3
•Fairfield, 2-4
•Hillsboro, 2-4
•Lebanon, 1-5
•Heritage, 1-5
•West Frankfort, 1-5
•Putnam County, 1-5
•Benton, 1-5