The deciding factor in a basketball game isn’t always a made basket. Sometimes a defensive stand, a key rebound, a “tie-up” situation giving the ball back to the defense with the possession arrow in their favor, as well as many other instances, can all equate to one team winning over another.
In Thursday’s non-league boys basketball bout between rivals Wauseon and Archbold in Wauseon, a charge taken by senior Sean Brock ended up being the key play in the game. Giving possession back to the Indians with less than a minute to go and down by one, it culminated with Jonas Tester getting fouled at the other end, where he would knock down two free throws to help give Wauseon a 36-35 win over the Blue Streaks.
“Did a great job. He stepped in. Took it very solid, took it square,” said Wauseon coach Chad Burt of Brock’s defensive play. “You know, offensively some of our guys didn’t have their best performances, but I thought that was a winning play for us. We were able to convert. And obviously Jonas Tester hit two very clutch free throws. What a game, what a great crowd. We get to do it again here in a week.”
It all happened so fast as the Indians erased a five-point deficit in the final 2:12 to earn the come-from-behind victory.
Connar Penrod’s two free throws at the 1:51 mark pulled Wauseon within three, 35-32. After the front-end of a 1-and-1 was missed by Archbold, Jonas Tester later scored off a steal to make it a one-point margin.
Then on the ensuing Blue Streak possession, Brock took the aforementioned charge, sending the home crowd into a frenzy as they knew their team would have a chance to win it. Wauseon, who used a timeout in the middle of the possession, was able to bleed the clock down and Jonas Tester drew a foul on a close call with four seconds to go. The sophomore confidently hit both free throws, putting his team ahead by one.
The Streaks could not connect on the game’s final possession.
“I thought our guys’ effort was great all night,” said Burt of the win. “Our offensive execution left a little to be desired. But I thought defensively we were solid. I thought rebounding the basketball we were solid. I told them after the game that, ‘win or lose, if the effort continues to be there we might not come up on the good side every game, but we’re gonna put ourselves in position to win basketball games with that kind of effort.”
While a pair of calls did not go Archbold’s way in the final minute, coach Joe Frank wasn’t about to make excuses for his team.
“They called the foul so that’s all that matters,” Frank said of the final Wauseon possession. “If we take care of business, it doesn’t come down to that. We turned it over, we missed some free throws. At the end of the day, that’s how you close out games. We let the opportunity for that (the game’s ending) to happen. And that’s on us.”
The first half was a back-and-forth battle that saw Wauseon leading 13-12 after one quarter on Jonas Tester’s long triple with five seconds left.
That continued into the second period with the score being knotted at 19 at the 4:20 mark.
However, the Blue Streak defense – which employed a 2-3 zone for much of the night – held the Indians to one point over the final four plus minutes. On the offensive end, Elijah Zimmerman’s putback basket gave the Streaks the lead, Trey Theobald added a putback on the next Archbold possession, and a DJ Newman score off a steal pushed their lead to 25-19 with 3:05 before halftime.
“They want to score in the paint, we know that. Obviously, if we can get them to shoot the ball from the outside, then that’s what we’re gonna do,” said Frank on the defensive strategy against Wauseon. “It worked for a majority of the game. The other telltale sign in the game was, they just killed us on the offensive glass. The one time they had five shots. Now they didn’t score, but the point being, we’ve just got to go up and rebound the ball like men. A couple rebounds, and make a couple free throws, it doesn’t come down to that last call.”
The Streaks led 25-20 at the half following 1 of 2 free throws from Wauseon’s Isaac Wilson.
Their lead was still five, 27-22, at the 5:55 mark of the third after Newman’s basket.
However, Wauseon got within one at the end of the period on Noah Tester’s jumper and a Tyson Britsch fadeaway hoop. And although Archbold built back up the lead to start the fourth, the Indians made another run to end the game.
As fun as this one was, like Burt elluded to, these two squads will meet this Thursday at Archbold in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League opener.
The Streaks will look to get the taste of this defeat out of their mouths, and get started on the right foot in league play.
“Coming over here and playing them down to the wire like this, we know that we can compete with them. We’ll take the lessons we can learn from this and get better. And see what happens next week,” explained Frank.
For Wauseon, it could perhaps be a tougher situation with Archbold having revenge on their mind. But Burt said his team will be ready.
“It’s gonna be interesting,” said the Indians’ coach. “We both have a game over the weekend. Then we’ll start next week preparing for each other. It’s maybe not an ideal situation to turn around and play them again, but it is what it is. I’m sure both teams are excited and ready to go.”
Wauseon (7-1) travels to Anthony Wayne Saturday while Archbold (5-3) hosts Fairview.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010