The perfect season was bound to end sometime, and after Fayette boys basketball improved to 15-0 with a 53-20 victory over North Central on Friday, the Eagles suffered a heartbreaking 36-35 loss in overtime Saturday to Liberty Center on their home floor.
It was Joel Studer’s floater in the lane with seven seconds left in the overtime session that lifted the Tigers past the Eagles.
“Liberty Center played very hard and took us out of our comfort zone,” said Fayette coach Todd Mitchell of the game. “We got off to a slow start and didn’t execute on the offensive end like we need to. They made some big shots.
“We would have liked to keep our record unblemished but our goals are still in front of us. We did not make enough plays down the stretch to pull off the win.”
In what was obviously a low scoring affair, Fayette limited Liberty Center to just seven points in the third quarter, five of which came in the final 2:40 to lead the Tigers 26-20 after three.
Fayette’s Jerad Seiler added two free throws to put his team up eight 30 seconds into the fourth. Then Justin Saneholtz of Liberty Center drilled a three and Christian Chambers a long two.
Seiler, who led all scorers with 19 points, scored inside at the 4:29 mark to increase the Eagle advantage to 30-25. The next highest Fayette scorer was Tristen Bates with eight.
“Jerad played a great game but we needed to have more balance to be more effective at the offensive end of the floor,” said Mitchell.
The two teams would trade baskets, but a triple and one of two free throws by Liberty Center’s Blake Graber knotted the score at 32 with only 34 ticks left in regulation.
Fayette had the last chance but their shot in the closing seconds was off.
Only seven points total were scored in overtime, beginning with a bucket for the Tigers’ Zack Carpenter to give them the lead with 2:41 left. Fayette responded as Seiler converted a three-point play 27 seconds later to put them ahead by one, 35-34.
The Eagles had an opportunity to extend their lead even further at the foul line with 20 seconds to go, but missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, giving the Tigers the last possession. Studer took advantage by slicing through the lane and hitting a one-handed floater while falling away to his left.
Fayette did not get as good of a look as at the end of regulation and their first loss was in the books.
However, the Eagles showed great resiliency in defeat.
Down 13-6 with under five minutes left in the opening half, they held the Tigers scoreless the rest of the way. Fayette’s Alec Bost began the rally with a three, Bates added a score with an assist from Seiler, and Seiler’s bucket knotted the score at 13 with 2:26 to go.
Then, with 27 seconds left until intermission, Seiler got another bucket in the paint which put Fayette up 15-13 at the break.
Leading Liberty Center in scoring was Graber with 16. For the Eagles on Friday against North Central, Seiler and Bates had 15 points while Joel Smith added 12.
Fayette (15-1, 7-0 BBC) will host Delta tonight in a Fulton County battle.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010