Hemminger’s basket lifts Senecas in OT

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE New Riegel's Dylan Smith (left) and Calvert's JJ Dull fight for the ball during the game in New Riegel Friday.

NEW RIEGEL — In an odd game with a combined 54 free throws, 32 turnovers, three lane violations and only two 3-pointers, it was Calvert senior Park Hemminger who pulled through in the clutch Friday night.

In the first meeting between Calvert and New Riegel, the game went into overtime with the Blue Jackets winning 57-48.

Friday’s game had a similar feel with the game being so close all the way to the finish.

Calvert led after every quarter, but the game was tied at 40 with 2:12 left in the fourth. New Riegel’s Ben Dryfuse hit a pair of free throws with a minute left, but Hemminger responded with a tough jumper to tie the game and send it to OT.

New Riegel led 50-47 in OT with 31.4 seconds left after a pair of free throws from Austin Lescallett, but Hemminger hit another shot and then after New Riegel missed a pair of free throws with 13.8 seconds left, Hemminger got the ball and pushed up the floor.

His coach, Jon Otterbacher, yelled out to him to drive and get to the rim.

That’s exactly what he did.

Hemminger made a layup over 6-foot-5 Dryfuse to give the Senecas a lead and the win, 52-50, in Sandusky Bay Conference River Division play.

“I just had a lane and I was trying to make a play and be aggressive,” Hemminger said. “I had a good look and I made it. (Dryfuse) is a big and lengthy defender, so I just tried to get it high and out of his reach and give the ball a chance to go in.

“We just had to stay disciplined tonight, not make silly turnovers late and try to make plays. We did good and made good plays and were smart enough to give ourselves a chance at the end.”

Hemminger and Zach Conn both had eight points for the Senecas (7-11, 4-5 SBC River), but it was Josh Recker who led the team with 15 points. He also pulled down six rebounds. Nic Somodi added 10 points.

“We’ve talked all year about trying to contend for a league championship and we lost some close games and if some things bounce our way it could be different, but we aren’t, so we are going out and trying to make sure no one is,” Otterbacher said. “We will try to cut down as many as we can from that podium.

“Park made some good decisions down the stretch. A few early possessions into overtime he shot some ill-advised shots, so pulled him aside and we asked him what we needed to do late in the game and he told me to be aggressive and drive to the basket. He went back in and drove to the rim like we wanted him to.”

It was a struggle for both teams offensively, but especially for New Riegel (10-7, 6-3). The Blue Jackets shot just 21 percent (12 of 58) from the floor, including 10 of 45 from inside the 3-point line.

“Our shot chart looks pretty empty tonight,” New Riegel coach Dave Losey said. “It’s hard to win basketball games when you shoot under (25 percent). Early they were pushing us off our spots and we were letting them do it. I thought in the second half we did a better job of getting the ball inside and attacking the rim. We were getting more foul calls and without all of those free throws, we would have really struggled to score.

“Calvert played really well. They made some big plays and hit some tough shots. They really stepped up.”

Offense was hard to come by in the first half as Calvert led at the end of each quarter, but led by two after the first frame and 18-17 at the half. Somodi scored eight points in the half.

The Senecas pulled out the biggest lead of the game for either team with a 30-25 advantage with 1:21 left in the third period, but New Riegel’s Bryce Hohman responded with a triple. Calvert led 32-28 after the third quarter with a last-second layup by Quinton Jones.

The fourth quarter was filled with free throws as both teams made just two baskets apiece — Calvert’s last one being the game-tying jumper from Hemminger.

“We’ve been putting a huge emphasis on driving and when we get the ball on the wing it’s a quick rip and drive baseline. If it’s there, you drive in to score and today we were finally be able to be successful at some of those little things we preach everyday,” Otterbacher said. “Zach did a great job of getting to the basket early, Somodi and JJ (Dull) had some nice looks. We performed well down the stretch with those little fundamentals we talk about.”

Dryfuse led the Blue Jackets with 12 points and nine boards, while Dylan Smith chipped in 11 points and Hohman ended with seven.

Despite the loss, New Riegel still has a chance to win the league with Fremont St. Joe on the schedule for the last game of the season.

“We have to move on. At the end of the day, we can’t do anything about this one except move on,” Losey said. “I’m looking for the guys to keep showing up and keep fighting. We’ve hit a little rough patch (lost three straight games).

“We still have have all our goals in front of us. We have St. Joe for the league and all of the marbles and then we have the tournament, so we will make sure every game we play with our best effort and get better.”