UTICA — It was one of those games neither team deserved to lose. And for more than five quarters, it looked as if no one would.
Fredericktown, which had rallied from nine down in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime, finally pulled away in the second extra frame and grabbed a hotly contested 60-54 victory over host Utica in Mid-Buckeye Conference action Tuesday.
“First of all, I think you have to give Utica a lot of credit. Those kids played their hearts out. They played more than well enough and hard enough to win that game tonight,” said Fredericktown coach Kirk Manns. “I also think our team showed a lot of guts tonight. We were down by as many as nine in the second half, and we were able to pick up the pace, pick our tempo on the defensive end and come up with some key turnovers. I thought our kids showed a lot of guts being able to fight back and then take it to two overtimes and come out with the win. Give our kids a lot of credit, too.”
After watching Fredericktown score the first two baskets of the game, Utica (4-2 overall, 3-1 MBC) dictated the tempo the next 25 minutes. The Redskins were able to force Fredericktown into quick shots on the defensive end of the court, then were able to work a nice, patient approach on the offense end.
“Defensively, we have to do that well in order to be successful. I thought we did a nice job, really most of the game, of containing what they wanted to do and get them out of what they’re successful at. We forced some shots and got some rebounds,” said Utica coach Eric Sheck. “We jumped on them. We’ve just got to find a way to finish the job.”
Utica’s defense kept the Freddies off the scoreboard for long stretches of the game. Fredericktown (2-0, 2-0) went nearly three minutes without a point in the first quarter, then had a scoreless stretch of 4:50 in the second and another five-minute stretch in the third.
“They pressure you and play uptempo (defensively), making you shoot quick. Then, they are very patient offensively. That’s tough to play against,” said Manns.
Meanwhile, the Redskin guards were able to patiently work the ball around until they were able to get a good shot off, some of which were easy layups on back-door cuts. Utica slowly increased its lead throughout the game, leading by as many as nine (39-30) with five minutes left in regulation.
But, Fredericktown was able to get an old-fashioned three-point play from Justin Snyder and a three-point basket from Max Miller to close the gap. The Freddies actually took a three-point lead in the game as time was winding down. But, Utica’s Nate Wyscarver was fouled attempting a three-point shot and was sent to the foul line. He calmly sank all three free throws to send the game to overtime.
“Nate did a heckuva job making the three free throws to force overtime,” said Sheck.
Both teams missed opportunities in the first overtime period, and Utica’s Jason Hoar sent the game to a second OT when he hit a free throw with 12 seconds left.
The Freddies finally burst through in the second overtime when Tyler Hathaway broke the tie for good with a 3-pointer.
“I think Tyler’s three-point shot, at that point, the lead looked a lot larger than three. The kids were tired, but we were able to get another basket, got a cushion and hung on,” Manns said. “I think this was good. We needed a challenge early. We understood playing on the road is a little different. I think this was a lesson well learned tonight. It’s always good to learn that lesson while you win.”
Ryan Logan led the Freddies with 15 points and eight rebounds. Miller added 12 points, while Hathaway had 10 points and four assists. Garrett Gatton checked in with eight points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Utica was led by Scott Cline, who had 16 points and three assists. Hoar added 15 points and four rebounds, while Wyscarver had 13 points.
“We were right there, had our chances. ... The kids did an outstanding job. They gave it everything they’ve got. There’s nothing to be disappointed about. The ball just did not bounce our way,” said Sheck.
Fredericktown travels to Highland on Thursday, while Utica hosts Heath on Dec. 28.
Utica won the junior varsity contest, 28-19. Luke Holmes scored seven points to pace the Redskins. Fredericktown was led by Jarrod Adams, who had six points.