Instant Classic: Eagles force OT on last second 3
St. Edward 62, Upper Arlington 58
Sometimes the script doesn’t play out the way it was written, and such was the case for Upper Arlington on Saturday inside an electric Value City Arena on the campus of the Ohio State University.
Upper Arlington’s dream run was supposed to end with the Black and Gold hoisting the gold trophy in front of its overflowing and energetic crowd. The script looked as if it were going to hold true as the Golden Bears held a, 52-49, advantage with 4.7 seconds remaining, but mighty Lakewood St. Edward had other ideas.
Senior Marsalis Hamilton flipped the script when he took a handoff from sophomore Derek Funderburk, and proceeded to elevate over several hands draining a nearly impossible three-pointer from the right wing as time expired to send the game to overtime.
For much of the night it appeared UA was going to find a way to win the game answering every punch the talented Eagles threw at it, but Hamilton’s haymaker was a heavy blow that the Golden Bears weren’t able to overcome.
The Eagles (26-2) converted some clutch free throws thanks to junior Kipper Nichols, Funderburk, and senior Malcolm Walters, which never allowed the Golden Bears to overcome a four-point deficit in the extra session giving Ed’s a dramatic and classic, 62-60, triumph of Upper Arlington. The Eagles got a couple key stops as a pair of Kevin Vannatta triples rimmed out, and Ed’s was able to gather the rebounds.
UA’s Logan Richter cashed in a triple from the right wing as the 3rd quarter expired giving the Golden Bears a, 40-37, heading into the final period. Moments later, the game was tied at 42, UA responded yet again with the next six points sending the Black and Gold faithful into an eruption with 2:56 showing on the clock. What is more, the Bears owned the possession, and with their signature triangle late-game offense set to close out game, it appeared a tall mountain to climb for the Eagles.
The Eagles were up for the test, which set up Hamilton’s shot heard around the Schott.’
Upper Arlington (27-2) raced out to a, 9-0, lead before Hamilton scored on a drive-in basket to stop the run. Hamilton and Nichols would go to work on offense, and help the Eagles draw within a point by the end of the opening quarter, 11-10. Nichols followed with a pair of jumpers and a drive-in basket to give Ed’s a, 16-14, advantage. The Bears would battle back and eventually grab a two-point lead, 22-20, at the half.
Michael McGovern paced the Bears with six points, and Vannatta and senior Danny Hummer each tallied five points in the opening half. Nichols scored 12 of his team’s 20 points in the half. Hamilton added six.
Nichols, who will see his stock soar after the weekend, didn’t slow down in the 2nd half. The 6-foot-6 junior scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting, and chipped in five rebounds. Hamilton, an unsigned signed, followed with 11 points and three dimes. Funderburk, who is coming off a broken foot, came up huge off the bench with two powerful inside moves and a 5-of-5 showing at the line for nine points.
Senior Tony Vuyancih and Walters notched seven and six points respectively.
Vannatta, a UNC Asheville signee and a kid that enjoyed a sensational tournament, closed out his high school career with 15 points, but on just 6-of-16 shooting, which was a rarity. Hummer, who handled the Eagles’ pressure all night, paced the Bears with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He was also a clutch 6-of-6 from the free throw stripe.
Senior Wes Davis and Richter each totaled eight points, and Richter chipped in a team-high five rebounds. McGovern finished with six counters.
Both teams were sizzling hot from the field with Ed’s shooting 61.5 percent and UA shooting nearly 59 percent for the game. The Eagles finished 10-of-14 at the foul line, and the Bears were 11-of-13.
The two teams combined for just 20 turnovers.
With the win, the Eagles halted UA’s 26-game winning streak.
Stat of the Game
2. The number of boys basketball state title banners that will be hanging in the Lakewood St. Edward gym.
Player of the Game
Kipper Nichols shot 11-of-15 from the floor helping the junior to 26 points. He also added five rebounds.
This was one of the most well played state tournament games we’ve seen in a long time. It possessed a little bit of everything.
Photos by Gary Housteau (JJHuddle.com/Bucknuts.com)