GENOA – Crazy does not even begin to describe it. Down by 10 points with 38 seconds left, Wauseon had a chance to win the game but a three-point attempt by Levi Seiler was blocked away as the Indian boys basketball team fell at Genoa Tuesday 43-40.
The final minute capped a great game between the Indians, ranked fifth in Division II, and the Comets, who finished fourth in the final Division III state poll.
“Genoa is who we thought they would be,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said after the game. “They are very physical and played with a lot of energy and emotion and it’s a perfect game for us to get ready for the tournament. It was well worth the trip, even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.”
The Comets appeared to have the game won when Andrew Bench leaked out on a missed free throw by the Indians and hammered home his second dunk of the game with 38 seconds left. It put Genoa ahead 42-32.
However, a series of events unfolded that gave Wauseon hope. First, Seiler converted a three-point play. On the ensuing possession for Genoa, the Indians forced a turnover. Seiler was able to draw a foul with 15.5 seconds left and when the officials were unspooling the bodies to get set at the line, a technical foul was called on the Comets.
“The Bench dunk ignited everybody, truly maybe got them a little overexcited,” stated Burt. “They were so prepared defensively. There wasn’t a lot of gaps in that defense.”
Seiler, who was set to shoot his free throws on the foul, wound up with four shots and made three, which cut the Genoa lead to 42-38. The Indians were able to get the ball back again, and this time Trent Armstong scored on a drive to the hoop, but missed his opportunity at a three-point play. It however made the game a one-possession game at 42-40 with 5.6 seconds left.
Bench was fouled for the Comets and split his free throws with 3.9 seconds to go, which gave the Indians a chance to tie. Getting a good throw off the inbound to midcourt, Wauseon had a look by Seiler, but a block ended the chance and the game.
“Credit to our kids for keeping playing,” added Burt. “We had a decent look at the end, but the reality is Andrew Bench’s wingspan erased any thought of a tie game we had. That kind of summed up the night.”
Armstrong made a couple great plays at the end of the opening period and again just before halftime to keep Wauseon in front. With seven seconds to go in the opening period, Genoa scored to cut the Wauseon lead to 9-8. Armstrong was able to follow a Trevor Rodriguez miss at the horn to extend the lead back to three. After Genoa took a 22-20 lead late in the half, Armstrong came up with a corner three to put the Tribe up 23-22 at the half.
“I thought our guys kept scratching and clawing,” said Burt. “I thought we did a decent job of getting to the rim all night. Film doesn’t do justice on how big these (Genoa) kids are.
Wauseon, who was 15 of 51 from the floor, was led in scoring by Seiler, who tallied 14 points. Plantz had 24 for Genoa. The struggle for the Indians came from the charity stripe, as Wauseon made 8 of 19 shots.
Wauseon (17-4) closes the regular season Friday at Delta (6-15).
Reach Randy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org