LEWIS CENTER – In another wild finish, the Olentangy boys basketball team found itself on the short end of a game decided on the final possession for the second straight night.
Jake Elmore’s game-tying three-pointer hit off the rim at the buzzer and Olentangy fell at home to Walnut Ridge 65-62 Saturday night.
Elmore’s opportunity to tie it was created by Austin Brown, who forced a tie-up near midcourt with 1.7 seconds left.
“We’re getting to the point where we understand what it means to play hard every minute of the game and what every possession means and what every shot means and what every defensive possession means,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said. “We’re getting there.”
VonCameron Davis put back the second of two offensive rebounds with 23 seconds remaining to seemingly put the game away for the Scots.
But Elmore knocked down a three-pointer for Olentangy on the other end.
Zach Wieging was called for a flagrant foul under the Walnut Ridge basket defending a layup on a breakout, which seemingly ended Olentangy’s hopes again.
Davis made one of two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to give the Scots a 65-62 lead before Brown forced the tie-up on the inbound pass to give Olentangy one last chance.
Elmore got free in the corner, but his shot was off the mark.
Brown was ejected from the game after the final buzzer for arguing with an official about contact made during the final play. He’ll be forced to sit out two games after the post-game ejection.
“He plays with a fire and we just don’t want to put that fire out,” Feasel said. “Sometimes that fire gets too hot. Tonight it burnt super-nova.”
Olentangy (1-5), which has been playing without one of its top returners in Tavian James for the first six games, has lost its last two games by a combined four points with both coming down to the last possession.
Westerville North’s Chace Perkins made a free throw with 0.3 seconds left to give the Warriors a 51-50 win over Olentangy in OCC-Buckeye play Friday night.
“We’re are having a bunch of moral victories right now,” Feasel said. “We are undefeated in moral victories right now.”
Josiah Seymour scored nine points, including a go-ahead three-pointer, during a 14-0 run in the first quarter that put Olentangy in control early.
Seymour led Olentangy with 27 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
“Tonight, he let things come to him,” Feasel said. “He shot shots that were under control and played strong like he does. Tonight, he played really well.”
Zion Blevins scored the final five points of a 7-2 rally – hitting a three-pointer and a jumper from the free throw line — to pull the Scots within 22-19 early in the second quarter.
“It’s like I tell my players – you gotta be ready to play no matter who it is,” Walnut Ridge coach Charles Jefferson said. “I think (Olentangy) is a disciplined team. But we responded without one of our star point guards – Qian Magwood, who’s on a visit – and guys stepped up tonight.”
Olentangy maintained its lead until Seven Harper buried a three from the right corner for the Scots with less than a second left to tie the game 34-34 at the break.
Kaveon Ross opened the second half with a pair of corner threes and Leon Douglas added a third from the wing to give the Scots a 43-34 edge with 6:08 left in the third.
Seymour converted a three-point play and Elmore knocked down a three off a Brown offensive rebound on the next possession to pull Olentangy within 57-56 with 3:39 remaining in the game.
But that’s as close as Olentangy would get as Davis scored in the post on the next possession.
Davis finished with 23 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, and added six rebounds and three steals to lead the Scots (3-1).
Ross had 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks; Douglas added 11 points and a pair of assists; Mankins had three blocks to go with six points and five rebounds; and Daaron Brown dished out seven assists for Walnut Ridge.
“Kaveon was huge down the stretch,” Jefferson said. “Role guys like Leon Douglas, Seven Harper, Zion Blevins – they made timely shots. We started bad in the first quarter and we were down (12). But we really responded with that 9-0 run in the third quarter. We were really resilient tonight.”
Elmore finished with 19 points, four rebounds and two assists; Brown had nine points, six steals and five assists; Caleb Gossett had four rebounds, two blocks, two assists and two steals and Wieging had seven rebounds for Olentangy.
“They all played hard,” Feasel said. “We had guys that came off the bench that gave us great minutes … we were just short, man.”
Next up, Olentangy returns to OCC-Buckeye action Friday night at home against Westerville Central. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.