MARYSVILLE – Coach John Feasel summed up Olentangy’s 57-55 loss to Hilliard Davidson pretty well following Wednesday’s Division I boys basketball district semifinal at Marysville High school.
Davidson’s Caleb Stimmel hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9 seconds left and Jacob Drees blocked a shot on the ensuing possession to preserve the win.
“They hit the last shot,” Feasel said. “I told our guys that there’s nothing to be ashamed of … we played our butts off. They just made the last shot. That’s what happens sometimes.”
Davidson was trying to take advantage of its size, which it had done all night.
“Honestly, we were trying … to look inside,” Davidson coach Tim Congrove said. “We had a size advantage on the inside with Gage (Keys) or Christian Gillilan or Jacob Drees, and often that leaves shooters open.”
Keys had 16 points and five rebounds and Drees added 11 points, 10 boards and six assists to lead the sixth-seeded Wildcats (20-5).
Davidson established its size early with Keys, who scored 10 of his points in the first half. The Wildcats led 25-23 at the break.
Stimmel scored all of his 13 points in the second half on the strength of four 3-pointers.
“That’s one of the things that (Stimmel) is best at … that catch-and-shoot,” Congrove said. “So, when he gets going – he can fill it up in a hurry. That was a big time shot for him. It should give him a lot of confidence going forward.”
Sean Marks paced 16th-seeded Olentangy (14-10) with 17 points and three assists and Tavian James scored eight of his 10 points in the second half and added four rebounds.
Marks finishes his career as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“(Marks is) one of the most prolific scorers we’ve had in our program,” Feasel said. “He’ll be missed – that’s for sure. I’ll miss all of the seniors. They were a good group that did all of the right things … did all the things that we asked them to do for the program and did all of the little things that we do to get better. When you have seniors that do that then you have something to show the younger classes.”
James hit a couple of key 3-pointers in the third quarter to help Olentangy keep pace and a key steal that led to a Luke Riedel layup that gave Olentangy a 49-47 lead with 3:19 remaining.
Caleb Steele had a block, a rebound and a basket on two possessions late in the fourth quarter. He knocked down a pair of free throws with 32.1 seconds remaining to give Olentangy a 55-53 lead setting up the final sequence.
Marks drove the length of the court and tried to fight through contact for a go-ahead shot, but Drees blocked it from behind and it was rebounded with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Riedel had nine points and Steele added six points, six boards and a pair of blocks to back Olentangy’s effort.
Gillilan and Drees both stand at 6-foot-7 and Keys is 6-foot-5.
“They’re long,” Feasel said. “We’re not big – there’s not hiding it. You walk out there for warmups and you see it. They’re long and they just ran us off the (3-point) line all the time and that’s fine. We were scratching and clawing at the free throw line and doing all we could to stay in the game.”
Olentangy finished 16-for-19 at the foul line.
Stimmel made the first of a one-and-one on the other end to account for the final margin. James rebounded the miss on the second one and tried to three-quarter-court heave at the buzzer that fell short.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever beaten Olentangy,” Congrove said. “They’re a great program, coached well. I give them a lot of credit – they game-plan with the best of them and they have a lot of talent too.”
Davidson will meet fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty for a district championship Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbus Convention Center.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.