Updated Sat, Feb 22, 2014 10:01 am
Jay Kline stopped at the doorway to the locker room hallway and turned around to face the middle of the court. The Nelsonville-York Buckeyes head coach began to clap and nod in an effort to lift his team’s spirit, but nothing would be powerful enough to cheer up a team exiting the basketball court for the last time together, especially a group that ended its season in the heartbreaking fashion that N-Y did.
The Buckeyes fell in overtime to the Dawson-Bryant Hornets 52-47 in the sectional championship game Friday night at Jackson High School. The back-and-forth, physical game provided the exciting finish that it deserved.
The climactic ending began with 1:23 left in regulation, when N-Y junior guard Jeremy Warren hit a three to tie the game at 46. The Buckeyes stopped Dawson-Bryant on the next possession and called a timeout with 12 seconds remaining, looking to take the final shot of the game. From there, chaos would ensue.
The Hornets stole N-Y’s inbound pass, but quickly turned the ball back over to Buckeyes senior guard Josh Fayette. Fayette then lost the handle himself and Dawson-Bryant picked up the ball and called a timeout with 1.6 seconds remaining. Hornets guard Brandon Adkins caught the Dawson-Bryant inbound and missed a 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into overtime knotted at 46.
Hornet guard DJ Miller scored the first points of extra time with two free throws 45 seconds into overtime. Fayette would then cut the deficit to 48-47 with a free throw of his own at the 1:30 mark. With 41 seconds remaining, Dawson-Bryant had possession and looked to run out the rest of the time.
N-Y’s Warren had other plans in mind.
The junior guard stole the ball and raced down the court for a breakaway layup attempt. Warren, however, missed the layup and a tip-in attempt by senior guard Wade Lent was also no good. Fayette was forced to pick up his fifth final in order to stop the clock and send the Hornets to the line. Miller sunk both free throws and increased the Coal Grove lead to 50-47.
On the other end, N-Y got the ball to its hottest shooter of the night: junior Colt Adams, who was 4 of 4 from beyond the arc on the night, attempted a potential tying three from the top of the key, but his shot fell short. The Hornets pushed the ball ahead and scored the final bucket of the night and their fourth point in 23 seconds, sealing the 52-47 victory.
Despite the loss, N-Y coach Jay Kline was incredibly proud of his team’s play.
“We kept trying to make that big play down the stretch that would get us the win but we just couldn’t quite get it,” Kline said. “But it was in no way due to a lack of effort.”
The effort of both teams was evident from start to finish, with neither team ever leading by more than six points. The heated play boiled over with 37 seconds remaining in the first half when Coal Grove forward Jonathan Joseph picked up a technical foul. Both teams continued to jaw at each other at half court and had to be separated by the officials. That intensity would continue throughout the entire night and not let up until the final buzzer sounded.
Coal Grove guard DJ Miller paced the Hornets offensively with 16 points on the night. He was 3-6 from beyond the arc. Sean Paulus also scored in double-digits, finishing with 10 points.
For N-Y, it was Colt Adams spearheading the offensive attack. Adams had 16 points and five rebounds on the night. Junior forward Jay Elliot added nine points and eight rebounds. Fayette was able to create a number of these scoring opportunities by continuously breaking the Dawson-Bryant full-court press. The Buckeyes were ultimately plagued, however, by their free throw shooting. N-Y shot just 58 percent from the line and finished 11 of 19 from the charity stripe.
The defensive effort of Kilbarger was indicative of the impressive effort that N-Y brought in night in and night out the entire season. For that reason, among many others, coach Jay Kline isn’t hanging his head about this season.
“This team is always going to have a special place in my heart because of their great effort,” he said. “We didn’t always make every play or make every shot, but we always knew what we were going to get effort wise and as a coach there’s nothing else you can ask for.”