Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 10:14 pm

BV storms past Orion to Warkins title, ending Chargers' run of five straight titles

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Orion's Dylan Schultz dribbles past Bureau Valley's Parker Neuhalfen during the Warkins Cardinal Classic boy's championship game in Erie on Saturday, December 29, 2012.
ERIE -- The Orion boys' basketball team's bid for a sixth straight championship at the Cliff Warkins Memorial Cardinal Classic was lost in a Storm Saturday night.

Behind a game-high 19 points from All-Tournament standout Parker Neuhalfen and a rugged defensive stand in the fourth quarter, the Bureau Valley Storm were able to break away to a 51-39 victory over the Chargers, snapping Orion's run of five consecutive Warkins championships and giving BV a title in its first tournament appearance.

"I thought BV outplayed us and outcoached us in the second half,'' Orion coach Brent Hutton stated. "They were definitely more efficient on offense, and that's why they won.''

Sparking the Storm (12-7) offensively was sophomore guard Parker Neuhalfen, who was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammate Hunter Klemme. Neuhalfen scored 10 of his 19 points in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter to help BV pull away after Orion (11-6) closed a seven-point deficit down to 35-34.

"When we got our first win (last Saturday), that felt good, and we kept on rolling from there,'' said Neuhalfen. "We didn't play well (in Friday's loss to Riverdale), and that made us feel beatable after feeling like we couldn't lose. We knew we had to come out tonight and play 100 percent.''

Orion senior guard Dylan Schultz hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points to cap a Most Valuable Player performance. He knocked down a trio of treys in the second period to help stake the Chargers to a 19-18 halftime lead. However, Schultz nearly matched the combined offensive totals of the other 10 Orion players.

"Anybody that scouts us knows that Dylan's going to get the ball a lot, so we have to find other guys to step up and score more,'' said Hutton. "That's something we need to keep working on, but I still believe in this team. This launches us into the second half of the year, and we're going to get better.''

Wethersfield 60, Stockton 57 (3rd place):Down by 11 points after the first quarter, the Wethersfield Flying Geese (12-2) dug in their heels, took a 47-42 lead into the final eight minutes and held off the Stockton Blackhawks to prevail behind a game-high 21 points from All-Tournament junior Trevor Lay, with Kegan Jacobson chipping in with 13 points.

Mercer County 61, Riverdale 41 (5th place):The Mercer County Golden Eagles (8-5) finished with four straight wins after losing to Orion in their pool-play opener last Saturday. Led by All-Tournament standout Tanner Matlick's 12 points, plus 11 from Tyson Nylin and 10 from Zach Aldinger, they pulled away from Riverdale (7-8) in the second half after holding a 26-15 halftime lead.

"I wasn't happy with our first half; we didn't rebound well and played some sloppy basketball,'' said Mercer County coach Brian Hutton, "but again, our defense has to be recognized. We don't have that super kid who lights it up every night, so everything we do starts at the defensive end.''

Cole Solomon (12 points) and Drew Beale (10) both hit double digits for the Rams as their All-Tourney choice, Jared Richmond, was held in check with just eight points.

Erie 65, Knoxville 51 (7th place):The host Erie Cardinals (11-7) ended their Warkins run on a high note, with All-Tournament pick Jacob Johnston's 18 points sandwiched in between strong outings from Connor Saad (19 points) and Rhett Stover (17) as they used a 15-4 second-period run as the springboard to victory.

"The thing that was the most exciting is that our guys bounced back, executed what we wanted them to do, and did the little things well,'' said Erie coach Ryan Winckler, whose squad held the Blue Bullets' All-Tourney choice, Andrew Hale, to nine points.

West Carroll 57, Morrison 49 (9th place):Closing a five-point halftime deficit to 40-39 entering the fourth quarter, the Morrison Mustangs (4-14) couldn't complete the comeback as the West Carroll Thunder held on behind Trevor Jones' game-high 16 points. Brock Deter led the Mustangs with 10 points.