By Michael Rich
Toby Mayle hit an incredible three-pointer at the buzzer to give New Albany a 41-40 victory over host Olentangy Liberty in boys basketball action Saturday night in Powell.
Bryson London missed the second of two free throws with 4.5 seconds left and the rebound was knocked to the left sideline. Jalin Jackson made a pass falling out of bounds to Mayle, who caught it and flung it in for three points as time expired to give the Eagles the win.
“You can’t blame it on one play,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “We’ve got a rule where we foul under five and that’s twice now since I’ve been at Liberty where we’ve lost (on similar plays).”
Still, Nossaman voiced his frustration after the game as it appeared Mayle’s foot was on the line for the game-winning three.
“They have no idea what the kids do in the offseason to prepare for the next season … none,” Nossaman said. “That’s what’s frustrating — one little thing like that takes a win away from us.”
He talked about the implications this game could have on the tournament draw, too.
“That’s a big game in terms of the draw being just three weeks away,” Nossaman said. “Instead of 8-7, we’re 9-6 and we beat a team from (the OCC-Capital). We’ve got (Upper Arlington) coming in with a three game win streak … we’ve got a little momentum. That just puts a bad taste in our mouth.”
The Patriots had held New Albany to 29 points through the first 31 minutes and 25 seconds of the game, and led 34-29.
Jackson took the inbound pass and went coast to coast for a layup to pull the Eagles within three with 34 seconds left.
London converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 26.3 seconds left to cut the Liberty lead to one at 35-34.
Liberty went 8-for-10 from the line in the final 40.1 seconds to seemingly seal it. The teams exchanged free throws in the final 16 seconds before Spencer Mitchell converted on a pair of charity tosses with 7.7 seconds remaining to give the Patriots a 40-37 lead.
Mitchell led the Patriots with 13 points and pulled down three rebounds. Ben Roderick added 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.
“He’s a kid who didn’t play much as a junior and he worked hard and got better,” Nossaman said of Mitchell. “He’s been solid for us every game. He shoots it well, plays good (defense) and rebounds. He’s a great team player and a great kid.”
Liberty used an 11-3 run to go ahead 18-12 midway through the second quarter. Roderick assisted on three-pointers on consecutive possessions by Mitchell and Anthony Little and the Patriots led 21-18 at the break.
Mitchell capped a 9-2 spurt at the end of the third period to push Liberty to a 30-23 advantage — its largest lead of the game.
London led New Albany with 13 points. He also had three rebounds and two assists. Jackson and Mayle each finished with seven points and two steals and Joey Rowling pulled down five rebounds.
The Patriots have held opponents to 41 points or less in three of the last four games, including a 56-32 win at Central Crossing Friday night.
“These kids have worked hard,” Nossaman said. “You try to find some positive things to take away and go into next week.”
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.