By Paul Hines
WOODLAWN — The Cardinals battled with Sandoval for three quarters before pulling away in the final period for a 57-40 victory in the Midland Trail Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
The Woodlawn lead Tuesday night was just six points at 43-37 going into the fourth.
Woodlawn entered the tournament as the top-seeded team with Sandoval the No. 9 seed.
“It's just a lackluster effort,” Woodlawn coach Shane Witzel said. “We should be disappointed. We didn't play well. The effort was not good.”
Sandoval stayed close by hitting from beyond the arc. The Blackhawks knocked down six 3-pointers in the game. Josh Nehrt helped Sandoval in the post as well with seven points and 10 rebounds. LaRon Anderson finished with 17 points to lead the Blackhawks.
A trio of Woodlawn players finished in double figures. Chase Phelps led all scorers with 19 points. Ross Owens had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jake Robinson finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Sandoval led the entire opening period. Anderson knocked down a jumper with 1:43 left in the first to give the Blackhawks their largest lead at 15-9.
Woodlawn's first lead came about a minute into the second quarter when Chase Phelps converted a layup to give the Cardinals a 18-17 edge. Woodlawn never trailed again but struggled to shake Sandoval.
Jayson Hapeman hit a jumper to give the Cardinals a 31-26 advantage going into halftime, and Phelps added to the margin with a jumper to open the second half.
Woodlawn threatened to move the margin into double digits several seconds later, but Sandoval answered with a run. Jordan Johnson hit a 3-pointer to make the score 37-33.
“When we wanted to play, we would turn it up a notch and extend that lead a little,” Witzel said. “And then we would back off, hoping they'd miss a few shots.”
Woodlawn took a 43-37 lead into the fourth quarter and put the game away with a late run. Up 47-40 midway through the quarter, the Cardinals finished the game with a 10-0 surge.
“We just played hard in stretches, and we're not good enough to do that,” Witzel said. “We can't just show up and play with a little bit of effort here and there. That's just not good enough.”
Woodlawn is 13-2 this season and faces Waltonville at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Clay for the tournament semifinal matchup. The two teams played earlier this season. Woodlawn won 49-39.