Saturday, November 30th, 2019

Indians edge 'Riders

By Gary R. Rasberry

St. Marys' Jack Cisco (0) tries to get around a Fort Recovery defender during Fr. . .

FORT RECOVERY - Given the scrappiness of the two teams throughout the night, the St. Marys-Fort Recovery boys basketball opening game was bound to have a wild finish.
Gavin Thobe's free throws with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation gave Fort Recovery the lead and St. Marys' chance to tie or win fell short to give the Indians a 55-53 victory at Fort Site Fieldhouse.
Fort Recovery was up by as much as 13 points in the first half before St. Marys trimmed the margin down to 31-26 at halftime as Ethan Steger kept the Roughriders in the game nearly single-handily with 19 points in the first half.
"One of our keys was keeping (the St. Marys perimeter shooters) at bay or at least contest the shots," said James Melton, who picks up his first win as Fort Recovery coach. "Then we made some adjustments on Steger when we saw he had 19 in the first half."
"We started out flat and Fort Recovery shot the ball exceptionally well (12-of-25 in the first half)," said Roughriders coach Dan Hegemier. "We didn't guard as well as we would have liked and had to exhort a lot of energy to get back into the game."
St. Marys kept chipping away and took a 34-33 lead early in the the third quarter on a Jack Cisco trey. After a Clay Schmitz free throw tied the game, Gavin Reineke hit a trey to put the Roughriders up by three. Cale Rammel got the Indians back to within a point and then Brian Bihn converted a hoop-and-harm 3-point play with 36.8 seconds remaining in the third to put the Indians in front 39-37 heading to the fourth quarter.
While the Fort Recovery defense slowed down Steger by holding him to just a bucket in the fourth quarter, the Roughriders continued to keep scrapping after Fort Recovery went up 45-40 with six minutes remaining. LeTrey Williams knocked down a 3 and Reineke made a bucket to tie the game. Jadin Davis then put St. Marys in front 48-45 with a 3 with 4:42 to go.
The Roughriders matched the Indians point-for-point to keep the lead until the 1:07 mark, when Bihn got a rebound and put the ball back up for a bucket while getting fouled. The free throw gave the Indians a 52-51 lead.
After a missed trey by the Riders, Thobe was fouled getting the rebound, making the back end of a two-shot foul with 49.6 seconds remaining to make it a two-point game. St. Marys tied the game with 35.4 seconds to go as Steger pulled down a rebound and got the stickback.
After the trading of timeouts, Fort Recovery appeared to be in trouble after losing the ball via turnover. Instead, the Roughriders were called for a foul. Thobe made both free throws to make it 55-53.
"I was trying to call a timeout to save us," said Melton. "The official turned and said there was a foul. Gavin has been working hard. This is karma for him because he's been working on the side. We've changed his rotation with his guide hand. He's buying into it."
Out of timeouts, the Roughriders got the ball down trying for a high-post play to set up a jumper, but the shot was off as time expired.
"We had to do some personnel management with all those fouls," said Melton, noting that two Tribe players fouled out and another had four fouls. "We had to dig in to our bench. Credit to our guys for knowing their roles."
Schmitz and Homan each had 10 points with Bihn pulling down seven rebounds. Grant Knapke and Ian Homan each added nine points.
Steger finished with 26 points for St. Marys. Reineke scored eight in the second half.
"Ethan had 24 in the first three quarters, then we couldn't get him the ball," said Hegemier. "That's what Reineke's for. The thing I liked about Gavin was he defended pretty well."
Both teams are back in action on Dec. 6. Fort Recovery hosts Versailles in the MAC opener for both teams while St. Marys opens play at Murotech Court against St. Henry.
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