Fort Recovery High School extended the defending Division IV state
champions from New Knoxville to triple overtime before losing, 73-64,
in a Midwest Athletic Conference thriller at Fort Site Fieldhouse on
Friday night. The Rangers have now won 40 straight games and 53 straight in the regular season. It wasn’t easy.
FORT RECOVERY – Fort Recovery High School extended the defending Division IV state champions from New Knoxville to triple overtime before losing, 73-64, in a Midwest Athletic Conference thriller at Fort Site Fieldhouse on Friday night.
The Rangers (13-0, 5-0 MAC) improved their amazing winning streak to 40 games (and 56 straight in the regular season), but not without leaving a whole lot of blood and pride on the court in the process. Fort Recovery drops to 9-4, 2-3.
It was a magnificent game, played by two beautifully coached, experienced teams – both of which executed their collective hearts out all evening.
“Every game when you are on the road in the MAC is a tough game,” New Knoxville head coach Dan Hagemier said. “I thought Fort Recovery came out and had a lot better feet than we did. I think that they were quicker than we were.
“We knew that (Greg) Kahlig was going to score a lot of points, but we didn’t want the other guys to hurt us. In the first half the other guys, did hurt us.”
At the end of the first half, when Toby Metzger rebounded a missed Austin Arnett free throw and drilled a pin point outlet pass, Frank Thein knew just what to do.
And when he took that pass and kissed a fade away 15-foot jumper off the glass to beat the buzzer – propelling the Indians to a 31-29 halftime lead – he was sending a powerful message to the visiting team:
“Bring it in the second half,” he might have noted.
Let the record show that the Rangers did, indeed, bring it in the second half. Both teams brought it, and it was a wonder to behold.
“I thought our kids came out and played well,” Fort Recovery head coach Brian Patch said. “Obviously they are the number one team in the state coming in. Our kids were up for it. They were excited.
“I thought we took them blow for blow, and that we gave them our best shot. We were just one possession away…”
Both teams squandered multiple opportunities to put this bad boy away, but maybe the game was just meant to become the barn burner that it was?
After all, how else does one explain the unlikely presence of MVP in Mercer county on a frigid late January night when the roads were rated at ’emergency level two?’
The Indians were led in every conceivable way on this evening by junior forward, Kahlig. The MAC’s leading scorer (23.56 ppg) tallied 34 points, corralled 12 rebounds, and dealt out four assists.
He scored 33 and 38 on MAC defensive powerhouse Coldwater High School earlier this season.
“I wanted them to get our best game,” Kahlig said. “I think we did that. I think they know that they got our best shot tonight, too. That’s all I was really after. We do the best that we can.”
Fort Recovery won the battle of the boards easily, 35-22.
Brad Piehl scored 31 points (7 rebounds, 2 steals) and was largely responsible for the Rangers having won this contest. He came into the game averaging just 16 points a game due to a lingering groin injury.
He was 20-24 from the foul line in this game. Let’s be clear: those foul shots were the determining factor in the third overtime. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Mr. Piehl has recovered.
Austin Arnett joined him in double figures for the Rangers with 19 points (6 rebounds, 1 steal).
Derek Dicke (3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Caleb Allen (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Ryan Vanderhorst (9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals), Marcus Reineke (7 points, 1 assist), Cody Horstman (1 rebound) all contributed mightily to the winning vibe.
Meanwhile, Craig Tobe lit up the state champs for 16 points (3 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist).
Thein (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), Metzger (4 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal), Cody Fiely (2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), and Shane Brunswick (2 points) also scored for Fort Recovery.
The Indians play Greenville tonight, while New Knoxville plays Fort Jennings.