There are no easy wins on the Olentangy boys basketball schedule – especially against rival Olentangy Orange.
But, Olentangy fought back from a 15-point deficit to finally hold Orange off 87-84 in double-overtime on the strength of 40 points from Sean Marks.
“There hasn’t been one game (this season) where I’ve sat back and said, ‘This is fun – we’re winning.’ We’re 10-9 and every one of those 10 has been gut-wrenching,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said. “Heck – even the losses are like that.”
Unlike the first meeting, which took two buzzer-beating three-pointers at the end of regulation and overtime, Olentangy made its biggest shots with time left on the clock.
“It’s always going to be a close game no matter how good either of us are just because it’s a rivalry game,” Marks said. “We’re going to both play hard and play our best game and I think that’s what’s happened both times.”
Marks converted an and-one with 22 seconds left to give Olentangy its first lead of the game at 66-64.
“It’s nice having Sean on the team because he gives everybody a little cushion,” Feasel said. “We know Sean can battle and we know Sean can score. That’s a great thing to be able to lean on.”
But, Orange’s Bryson Lane drove the lane and knocked down the tying basket with 7 seconds left to send it to overtime.
Alex Sieve, who had 18 points, buried a three to give Olentangy a 74-71 lead in the first overtime.
The lead stood up until Luke Ballinger knocked down the tying three with hands in his face at the top of the key with 9 seconds left to tie it 76-76 and send it to a second overtime.
Jerred Kinnaird knocked down 1 of 2 at the line to give Olentangy a 77-76 edge and it never trailed again. Olentangy knocked down 11 of its 14 free throw attempts in the second overtime to account for all of its points in the period.
Kinnaird had 14 points for Olentangy (10-9, 2-7) and Kyle Milliron chipped in nine.
Orange jumped out to a 9-2 start on a Ballinger three and baskets by Lane, Jalen Bethel and Matt McCollum.
“We came out a little shocked,” Feasel said. “I told them before the game, ‘If we’re down 10 – we’ve just gotta keep plugging away and keep battling and good things will happen.’”
Bethel had eight of his 18 points to help Orange to a 27-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Caleb Steele came off the bench and gave us some great minutes,” Feasel said. “Our bench played great tonight.”
Olentangy fought back using a 9-3 run to close the half down 32-24 led by Marks, who scored 11 of the team’s 15 points in the second quarter.
“I was just trying to get my team back to believing that we had a chance,” Marks said.
“(Olentangy) certainly deserves a lot of credit because they’re a team that makes shots and they made shots when they needed to make shots,” Orange coach Anthony Calo said. “They hit every shot they needed to make and you have to give them credit for that.”
McCollum led the Pioneers (12-8, 3-6) with 20 points, Lane finished with 19 and Ballinger added 14.
“We did not execute our game plan defensively,” Calo said. “And when that happens against a team that can shoot – they can make you pay … and they made us pay. We have to be a little sharper defensively to make a tournament run.”
Olentangy is right back at it today, hosting Thomas Worthington in non-league play at 7:30 p.m. Orange is off until Tuesday when it hosts Dublin Scioto at 7:30 p.m. in non-league action.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.