NAPOLEON – What can be done in a tenth of a second?
Not much…read one word? Have one brain cycle?
However in a basketball game, the difference between 1.0 and 0.9 on the clock can be the difference between winning a Division IV district title and going home for the season.
Fayette needed every microscopic-millisecond of that clock Friday night as a last second bucket by Ayersville’s Dauson Dales was ruled too late and the Eagles lived to see the regional tournament with a 37-36 victory.
“Oh no question it was close,” said Eagle coach Todd Mitchell of the play that began with 0.9 on the clock and ended with a number of cameras immediately after showing the ball out of Dales’ hand with either 0.1 on the clock or showing the backboard lights signifying the end of the game not lit.
The other story is the beginning of the play with the question of when did the clock actually start when the Pilots’ Jacob Miller tipped a full court pass in the direction of Dales.
An area television station later reconstructed the play at full speed with a timer, concluding that the ball was still in the cup of Dales hand when the clock hit all zeros.
Prior to that point, Fayette had garnered a double-digit lead, only to have to withstand a late Pilot run.
Eric Engel’s three pointer along with a couple of Mike McGuire buckets had given the fourth-ranked Pilots a 9-7 lead over the third-rated Eagles in the first.
Fayette retaliated with a 10-1 run to finish the quarter, keyed by two long three-balls from Alec Bost to take a 17-10 lead.
That lead ballooned to double figures on Tharyn Colegrove’s second three-pointer of the game 48 seconds into the second.
The Eagle defense held the Pilots without a field goal for nearly 11 and a half minutes in the first half but went sour offensively, scoring only on Jerad Seiler’s patented moved from the left side of the key the rest of the half.
“Our defense has been a key all year, especially in the tournament trail and we really needed it in the first half because they are really athletic and were getting after it as well,” said Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Ayersvile with 3 of 4 from the foul line and finally McGuire’s forced triple at the buzzer chopped the Eagle lead to 22-16.
Bost got Fayette back to a nine-point margin with his third triple with 6:21 left in the third, 27-18, but Ayersville started chipping away, closing the gap to 29-25 on Dales’ three-pointer with 1:57 left in the quarter.
Seiler’s two baskets, again with the same power move from the left, offset Dales three-point play to give Fayette a five point lead with 4:50 to go.
Dales tripled again and Ethan Schlacter scored off the offensive glass and turned it into a three-point play from the foul line with 2:15 on the clock to push Ayersville in front, 34-33.
Joel Smith gave Fayette the lead right back 17 seconds later, hitting both ends of the one-and-one but Dales came up big again with a third try stick back at 1:31 to regain the lead for the Pilots.
Fayette got the ball into the post in the form of 6’8” Tristen Bates and with Pilots swarming around him, he flicked up a over the shoulder hook that found the bottom of the net giving Fayette the lead.
Ayersville worked the clock down to the last five seconds where McGuire’s angling jumper from the foul line was off the mark and the ensuing loose ball ended up in the hands of Colegrove who went to the foul line with 1.4 on the clock.
The junior guard missed the front end and the following Pilot rebound and timeout set up the last 0.9.
“The important thing was the stop at the end in the last 55 seconds,” said Mitchell. “I think we made them not get as good a look as they wanted and that’s been our trademark, playing very solid defense not letting teams get into what they want to do.”
For the game Fayette shot 14 for 29 for 48 percent while holding Ayersville to only 12 of 40 for 30 percent.
Seiler’s 12 led the Eagles who move on to the BGSU Regional against Lincolnview tonight.
Ayersville bows out of the tournament at 22-3 and were led by McGuire’s 12 and 11 from Dales.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org