WILLARD - Matt Cok stood at the line with 1.7 seconds left in overtime and Willard leading Columbian by three.
The way the game had gone, one half-expected Cok to miss the free throws and Columbian to get one more chance to tie the game.
It had been that kind of night. Willard made five 3-pointers in the first quarter and built a 21-10 after a Nick Davidson layup in the early moments of the second.
But the Tornadoes went onto dominate until the half, using a 16-6 spurt to take a short-lived lead. Josh Flint's layup with 1:07 left in the second put the Tornadoes up, 26-25. But as soon as the basket went through the net, TC's Donovan Walker was called for a technical, and Cok split a pair of free throws to send the teams to the half tied at 26.
Columbian then used a 9-2 run in the third to go up 41-33 after a Walker layup, only to see Willard answer with a 9-0 run of its own and head to the fourth quarter up 47-46.
Then, after a fourth quarter that saw only 10 points scored between the two teams and an overtime that finally saw Willard - seemingly - take control, Cok had a chance to finally clinch things.
Free throws hadn't exactly been a strength for the Flashes up to that point. Hayden Adams, who played well for Willard and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, had missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with the game tied and less than four seconds left in regulation. As a team, Willard was just 9 of 18 from the stripe as Coke strode to the line.
But Cok, who finished with 20 points, made both free throws, and the Flashes won, 63-58.
Columbian lost despite a brilliant effort from guard Bryce Lonsway. The senior guard hit four second-half 3s on his way to 24 points and seven rebounds. With Columbian down 60-57 in overtime and the clock winding down, Lonsway had the ball, but was blanketed by Willard defenders. He penetrated inside the 3-point line and was fouled with three seconds left. Lonsway made the first foul shot and tried to intentionally miss the second, but TC was called for a lane violation.
"We tried to contain Bryce, he was a one-man wrecking crew tonight for Tiffin; I was impressed with the way he played," said Willard coach Dave Hirschy. "They do such a good job on their two-man game, pick-and roll. No matter what we tried, I don't think it worked defensively. We were able to get a couple critical stops in the overtime, and get a couple key scores."
The star of the game for Willard was Davidson, who burned the Tornadoes for 25 points, thanks in part to four 3-pointers. He had 15 points after halftime.
"Nick had a really nice game for us; he hasn't been feeling too well," Hirschy said. "I was a little concerned going into the game, but he battled the bug and really stepped up big for us tonight.
Willard improved to 13-5, 6-2 in the Northern Ohio League by fighting off the upset-minded Tornadoes (6-12, 1-7).
Columbian got a big game up front from Cody Daniel, who had 11 rebounds to go with seven points, and Walker, who scored 12.
"Our kids played so good tonight," said Columbian coach Bill Beaston. "I wish there was a magic potion I could give them to make them feel better right now, because it's probably the best we've played this year 1-through-8.
"I wouldn't change anything. Sure, maybe shots didn't fall, or a free throw didn't fall, or we missed a rebound or missed a defensive assignment, but you know what? They played their butts off, and I'm still proud of them, and I still believe [in] them, and I know wins are coming."