SPARTA — More than once, it looked like the Highland Scots basketball team would pull off a big conference win on Friday night. Unfortunately, it all slipped away from the Scots in the end as the visiting North Union Wildcats won their Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference contest in double-overtime, 58-51.
A double-double by Wildcats post Evan Jamison (11-of-15 field goals, 26 points, 11 rebounds) along with 18 points from Klarke Ransome (five rebounds) told part of the story. So did the 21-of-31 that the Wildcats shot from the line, which included a stellar 12-of-15 from the stripe for Ransome.
It’s always the little things that count the most in a game where the lead changes seven times. For the Scots, foul shooting was an Achilles’ heel all night long. Even worse, they were 2-of-5 from the stripe in both overtime periods combined.
“I thought we played a pretty good basketball game tonight,” said Highland coach Mike Hoyng. “We’re seven for 19 from the foul line tonight. You’ve got to make free throws. If you’re not going to make free throws at this level. You’re always going to struggle in games.”
Highland’s Garrett Ulrey (eight points, two 3’s) grabbed a steal and took it to the other end for the easy layup to tie it up at 34 at the end of the third quarter. Teammate Kyle Cremeans (eight points) tried to do the same, but was leveled by a North Union player as he approached the basket. He got up and missed both ends of the technical that was called against the Wildcats, but Ulrey grabbed the rebound and fed it to Matt Stooksbury (eight points) inside. Stooksbury’s bucket put the Scots ahead, 36-34, with 6:15 left in regulation.
After Ransome knocked down another pair of free throws, Cremeans dished it to Ulrey, who hit landed a 3-pointer and made it 39-36 Highland.
Will Carmickle preserved the lead for the Scots, hitting a pair of foul shots. Unfortunately, the Scots let the Wildcats back in by missing three out of their last four foul shots in regulation and throwing a pass out of bounds on another trip down the floor. North Union’s Warren Shields was fouled underneath the basket when he grabbed a Jamison miss and tried to get the putback.
Jamison converted on both shots and the game was tied at 43 at the end of regulation.
“We just have to do a better job with the basketball in critical situations,” said Hoyng. “Sometimes, we get lazy with it or we don’t concentrate or get it where we need to and we make bad mistakes and turnovers.”
Cremeans hit a bucket to start the overtime and then he hit another with 1:28 to go to tie it at 47. His ensuing foul shots made it a 48-47 Scots’ lead.
After Ransome put the Wildcats up again, Highland’s Greg Deckling (5-of-10 fgs, 12 points) was fouled by Chad Smith. Deckling made his first shot, but missed the second. A last shot by Ransome missed and the game went to double overtime.
“We didn’t make free throws when we needed to,” said Hoyng. “You have to do that throughout the night. It just wasn’t the end of the game. I’m talking about the entire night. You have to be a better free throw shooting team to win against the competition that we play against.”
Jamison hit a bucket and Deckling answered with more than two minutes to go. Unfortunately, Deckling’s shot would be the last one to fall for the Scots, while Ransome hit four of his final six from the foul line to ice it for the Wildcats.
“We had a lot of pretty good looks at the basket and we just didn’t convert,” said Hoyng. “If we can get our kids to smack down the shots that they do in practice, and play with the confidence that they do in practice, in game situations then I think we are going to start to become successful.”
In jayvee action, North Union downed Highland, 46-23. Evan Webb and Payton Woodruff led the way for the Scots with six points each.