Don’t tell the people of Pettisville and Fayette that this was just another early January Buckeye Border Conference game.
Before a near full house Thursday on a night that both benefitted cancer-stricken Fayette student Allie Herman, and recognized Eagle coach Todd Mitchell for his 200th coaching victory earlier in the week, the Blackbirds used a Graeme Jacoby free throw with 6.3 seconds left and got a little luck on the other end when the Eagles missed an open look underneath at the buzzer to take a 62-61 double overtime win to go to 5-1 in the BBC.
“Boy you have to give credit to both teams tonight,” Pettisville coach Brian Leppelmeier said after. “I don’t expect anything less when our teams get together. We had some guys foul out, they had some guys foul out. I think it was a big learning experience for a lot of our guys, it’s only going to make us better. We were fortunate to come out of this on the winning end.”
The Birds are a game behind league-leading Stryker as the league begins the second round of BBC play this week.
Pettisville jumped out quick, going up 7-0 as the 6’5” Jacoby, and 6’6” Sam Rychener, scored all seven in a high-low game in the first three minutes.
Jacoby got two more buckets inside during the first eight minutes but the Eagles came roaring back behind a combined 12 points from Trey Keefer and Clayton Pheils to take a 14-11 lead at the end of the first.
However, in the second the Eagles went only 2 of 11 from the floor and regained the lead on a pair of Jacoby free throws, then extended it to 24-20 at the break when Logan Rufenacht hit a wing jumper and Canidate Vickery scored off a steal.
That lead continued to grow through the third and into the fourth as Rufenacht hit back-to-back triples in the first minute of the third, Austin Horning stuck one from long range at the four minute mark and Jacoby began a parade to the foul line as the big junior hit 4 of 4. Horning also converted both ends of the bonus at the 7:11 mark of the fourth, giving the Blackbirds their biggest lead at 42-29.
“Graeme has been really coming around lately and asserting himself in the low block and I think it’s helping him on the glass too,” stated Leppelmeier. “Sometimes he has a tendency to stray from the rim so he’s really been working on that. Him establishing himself down there is big for us.”
However all those free throw chances became a mirage as Pettisville wouldn’t hit from the field for nearly 13 minutes, and suddenly the radar-like accuracy at the line began to falter.
Keefer scored off the offensive glass and Pheils nailed a left wing three-pointer to close the gap to 43-35 with 5:57 left when Horning went down with a serious leg injury.
Porter Maginn’s putback got Fayette within six with 4:20 left, and the margin stayed that way until 1:44 was left in the game.
That’s went Noah Brinegar laced back-to-back three-balls from the right wing and the top of the key in the span of 46 seconds to bring Fayette back to a 47-47 tie with 58 seconds left, and after the Blackbirds didn’t get a clean look, the teams headed to an extra four minutes.
“They did a good job of closing down on Graeme during that time,” explained Leppelmeier. “We got off to a great start early on and they made the adjustment. You have to give credit to them.”
Pheils one upped Jacoby’s split at the line by hitting a pair with 2:57 left to give Fayette a 49-48 lead.
Jacoby posted up for the first Blackbird basket in what seemed forever at the 2:45 mark to reclaim a Blackbird lead.
Nearly a half minute later Brinegar struck again, this time from way outside the line on the left wing for a 52-50 Fayette lead.
Jacoby’s split at the line cut the Eagle lead in half and after an Eagle miss, Detric Yoder scored his first field goal of the night on a controversial charge-block call that went in favor of Pettisville to regain them the lead.
Jaxson Wentz split a pair from the stripe with 68 seconds left to knot the score at 53, and after Rufenacht’s triple try sat on the rim and fell out, Pheils was fouled on the rebound.
The 5’8” senior found nothing but net on both tries which put the Eagles up 55-53 with 46.5 to go. But the Birds had one more answer, this time in the form of Rufenacht, as the Pettisville senior pump faked a three-ball try and drove to the rim for the tying-score to send the game into a second overtime.
Yoder’s drive and Jacoby’s power move gave the Blackbirds a 60-57 lead with 3:03 left.
Pheils found Maginn inside to slice the lead to one and after Eli Grieser went 1 for 2 from the foul line, Pheils hit both from the charity stripe to force a 61-61 tie with 38.8 on the game clock.
Pettisville worked the clock, then the ball down to Jacoby who drew a foul with 6.3 left.
After lacing his 28th point of the night to give Pettisville the lead the Eagles had one last chance.
Wentz penetrated under pressure upcourt, down the sideline to the baseline and dumped to Maginn underneath but in a rush to the beat the quickly extinguishing clock, the shot went awry and the Blackbirds had hung on.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Leppelmeier said. “With all the situations that happened in that game from being up a bunch to being down this again is a great learning experience. This was exciting basketball in Fulton County on a Thursday night.”
Rufenacht’s 13 points supplemented Jacoby’s big game for Pettisville.
Pheils had 27 to lead Fayette. Keefer and Brinegar each added 12.
Both teams added wins on Saturday. The Blackbirds defeated Edon at home 54-30, while the Eagles won at North Central 44-40.
Pettisville (7-3, 5-1 BBC) hosts Montpelier this Thursday and Edgerton Saturday. Fayette (7-4, 4-2) is off until Jan. 17 when they travel to Edon.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org