Old Fort falls in OT

KANSAS – In a game with hundreds of plays, Old Fort coach Eric Hoover declined to focus on just one or two.

How could he? The Stockaders mentor, who had guided them to a 20-win season and accolades that included being ranked in the Division IV top 10 for much of the season, had just watched his squad’s season come to an end in nail-biting fashion.

Ottawa Hills rallied from a five-point deficit in the final minute and a half of regulation to force overtime, then escaped it when Hunter Perry’s deep 3 attempt from the right wing came up just short at the buzzer.

The Green Bears’ 61-59 victory in Tuesday’s Division IV district semifinal will bring them back here Friday, where they will go against Toledo Christian, which defeated New Riegel in the nightcap, 50-48.

For Hoover, whose team rallied from an early 12-point deficit, the game was about chances.

“We had opportunities, they had opportunities,” Hoover said. “Up five with a minute to go, we let that slip.”

Thanks to a torrid second half effort from Hunter Perry and an effective press defense, the Stockaders overcame a shaky first half to grab a 56-51 advantage after a Perry jumper with 1:52 left.

On the ensuing Ottawa Hills possession, the Green Bears missed three shots, only to have Lucas Janowicz keep the possession alive with offensive rebounds. Finally, Janowicz went up to the basket and was fouled with 1:37 left.

Janowicz was brilliant Tuesday night, battling for 18 points and 17 rebounds.

“This is his second game back after having some meniscus surgery,” said Ottawa Hills coach John Lindsay. “He’s huge for this team, and his leadership was huge for us tonight, too.”

Janowicz made both free throws to cut the Old Fort lead to three.

The Stockaders then turned the ball over. After a missed shot, the Green Bears found Geoff Beans open in the right corner. The 3 tied the game with 44 seconds remaining.

“(Beans) really stepped up; it wasn’t a pretty pass,” Lindsay said. “He had to reach down and get it, and knocked (the shot) down when we needed it.”

Beans finished with 14 points. The 3 was the only one the Green Bears hit after the half.

After a timeout, Perry dribbled the ball as the clock ticked down under 10 seconds. The ball went to Matt Hill, who was having a very good game. Hill had a good look at a jumper, but it didn’t fall. He got the rebound and had another look, but the shot missed again as the buzzer sounded.

Hill, who fouled out in overtime, finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

“I’m proud of Matt, very proud of Matt and the game he played tonight,” Hoover said. “We wouldn’t have been in that position or had a chance to win without him. The shots didn’t go in. That happens.”

In the extra session, Ottawa Hills opened up a 60-56 lead following a layup from Janowicz and a jumper from Beans. Cole Davidson – who finished with 18 – answered with a right corner 3 with 1:53 left.

After each team made a defensive stop, Ottawa Hills’ Ben Silverman was fouled with 25 seconds left with his team in the one-shot bonus.

Silverman missed the first. Dalton Perry grabbed the rebound, and found Hunter Perry, who attempted a jumper from the right wing with five seconds left. It missed, and the Green Bears got the rebound. Silverman again was fouled, this time with 3.3 seconds on the clock. He made the first, missed the second to make it 61-59. Dalton Perry got the rebound and called timeout.

Two-and-seven-tenths of a second remained.

Old Fort was able to get the ball to Hunter Perry, who fired from deep on the right wing. The shot was on line, but it was short.

“We expected it to go to Hunter,” Lindsay said. “Man, what a phenomenal night he had. He gets it done. What a great basketball player.”

Hunter Perry finished with 23 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Dalton Perry finished with six points and a team-best nine boards.

R.J. Coil had 13 for Ottawa Hills.

Hoover said he will take plenty of things from this season, and expressed his appreciation for the support his team received from the Old Fort faithful, which was loud all night.

“They love watching this team play,” Hoover said. “It brought the community together. People have been so supportive of us, and a lot of them don’t even know the kids. They don’t know them personally, but they like watching them play, and they love Old Fort basketball and they’re proud of the way they get out there and compete and play hard.”