For the Daily News
Through the first seven minutes of play in Wednesday night's IHSA Class 2A Hillsboro Regional semifinal, the Teutopolis Shoes couldn't, in the words of their coach, get the lid off the basket.
Once it was lifted, it became open season.
The top-seeded Shoes (25-3) used a 16-0 run between the close of the first quarter and first three and a half minutes of the second to blast fifth-seeded Greenville 72-40 and advance to Friday night's regional championship game against second seed, Vandalia.
Teutopolis will be seeking its fourth straight regional crown when it tips off at 7:30 p.m. at Hillsboro High School.
The Vandals were 62-52 winners over the hosting Hiltoppers Wednesday.
The Shoes were able to keep the Comets at bay, allowing just one field goal in the first quarter, but couldn’t find the basket themselves and led by a slim and low-scoring margin of 4-3. That is, until junior Reed Hardiek hit a three with two seconds left in the first and started his team's march to the lead.
"It was a pretty big one," Teutopolis Coach Andy Fehrenbacher said. "We were struggling getting some shots to fall. I felt like from there on when we ran a set play guys executed pretty well. We hit buckets when we needed them."
Hardiek's shot began a flood of threes for the Shoes who used three straight to pull away to a 20-5 lead in the ensuing three and a half minutes. On the night, they feasted behind the arc, making 11 of 18 attempts, including five from senior Derek Smith who personally went five of nine and scored all of his game-high 26 in the final three quarters.
That long-range offense was more than enough. After being held to seven first quarter points, the Shoes didn’t score less than 20 in the final three and used a suffocating defense to force 21 Comet turnovers.
For Greenville, which attempted to slow the Shoes’ post play, Teutopolis’ success behind the arc turned the game inside out.
"If you had told me before the game (Kyle Preumer) would have under 10, I thought we'd be hanging around," Greenville Head Coach Todd Cantrill said. "The tough thing is they've got guys that can shoot from the outside also. When you're playing a team like this, you have to hope one is a little off."
They weren't. Led by Smith's 14-point outburst in the second quarter, the Shoes never looked back. They led 30-19 at halftime, then put the game out of reach in the second half with a 22-9 run that included four treys - two each from Smith and Cody Will.
"It's almost like they could smell the blood in the water," Cantrill said. "They're a nice team. Our guys can learn from this and hopefully get better. It’s just tough on a night like tonight.”
The win showed Teutopolis’ depth, taking its success from long range and opening the paint for its array of post players to work freely.
“We always stress inside out and make a pretty strong effort to look inside. We’ve had a few other games where we’ve shot the three-ball pretty well. There have been other games where we’ve only made two,” Fehrenbacher said. “We can do a lot of things and we’re not a one-dimensional team. That showed tonight. When something’s not working very well we can do something else.
Joining Smith in double digits was Devin Falbe with 11. Three others had at least eight for Teutopolis. Greenville, which ended its season at 12-19, was led by Jacob Hall’s 14.
Teutopolis 7 23 22 20 - 72
Greenville 3 16 9 12 - 40
Teutopolis- Smith 26, Falbe 11, Will 9, Waldhoff 8, Preumer 8, Hardiek 6, Mette 4.
Greenville- Hall 14, Lawrence 7, Faulkner 6, Alderman 4, Hutchinson 2, Manning 3, Schaufelberger 2, Leitschuh 2.