Ethan Crawford’s solid defense and Aaron Watson’s free throw with 20.8 seconds left sent the Buckeye Valley boys basketball team to a 50-49 overtime victory over visiting Jonathan Alder Thursday night.
“I was a little nervous because I missed the second one … but it worked out, so it’s all good,” Watson said.
Crawford forced off-balance shots by Jacob Koenig at the end of regulation and overtime to give the Barons the victory in the final meeting between the teams as members of the MOAC. The Pioneers will play in the Central Buckeye Conference next season.
“Our defense on the last possession was tremendous,” BV coach Andy Gast said. “We knew they were going to run a set to get one of the Koenig brothers open and we defended it perfectly.”
The Pioneers led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter and as many as nine in the third.
Cameron Androw knocked in a couple of free throws to give the Pioneers a 45-38 lead with 2:05 left.
Then, Crawford drove and kicked to Dylan Herbert, who knocked down a three from the right corner.
After two Crawford free throws, Herbert fed to Watson on the left wing to give the Barons (7-10, 4-5) a 46-45 lead with 1:15 remaining in regulation – their first lead since 15-12 early in the second quarter.
“My teammates set me up for a great shot … I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Watson said. “We ran the offense the way Coach teaches us to run it, and I was open and knocked it down just like we practiced.”
Andrew Koenig found brother Jacob Koenig, who gave Alder the lead right back with a layup on the ensuing possession.
After BV’s Ben Spaulding tied it with a free throw, Jacob Koenig tried an off-balance shot between Crawford and Nathan Edington, but missed everything as time expired in regulation.
Crawford stood straight up to defend Jacob Koenig’s game-winning attempt at the buzzer in overtime to preserve the win.
“We knew they were going to set screens and we knew that we had to take what they gave us and play the best defense we could,” Crawford said. “Thankfully, they didn’t make their shots.”
“We didn’t bite on the shot fakes. They tried to lean in on us and we went straight up,” Gast said. “We played great D and got the stop we needed.”
Crawford scored all 12 of his points in the second half, including an 8-for-10 effort at the foul line to lead BV in scoring. It followed a solid eight-point first half performance by Austin Richard, who finished with 11 points.
“(Coach Gast) trusts us as players, I think that’s really important – trusting players as a coach and us trusting him to make the right decisions,” Crawford said.
Crawford led with three assists and tied Spaulding with a team-high four rebounds. Watson finished with seven points.
Clark Newland provided a spark off the bench with two points, three rebounds and a steal in the final minutes of the third quarter as BV erased most of a nine-point deficit with a 7-0 run, which was started by a Richard three-point play.
It’s the second time this season BV needed a defensive stop in the final seconds to preserve a win over Alder.
Crawford hit a free throw with 3.9 seconds left and Nathan Edington blocked a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Barons a 42-41 win at Alder Dec. 22.
“I personally think Jonathan Alder is one of the best teams in the league and we beat them twice in close games,” Gast said.
Jacob Koenig led the Pioneers (12-6, 5-4) with 15 points and two steals, Androw had 14 points and three rebounds and Andrew Koenig added eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
BV begins a stretch of five consecutive road games to close the season with a trip to league foe Marion Pleasant Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Big Walnut picked up a convincing non-league win against host Thomas Worthington Thursday, dropping the Cardinals 41-16.
BW standouts included Carson Dearth (160), who picked up a 5-3 win in overtime; Luke Apple (220), who pinned his opponent in 4:55; Christian Jodrey (113), who nabbed a 10-8 win; and Bailey Munday (132), who cruised to a 19-3 win.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.