By ANDREW WILLIAMS
KENTON — With 53.3 seconds left in regulation and trailing Lima Perry 54-47, Arlington’s hopes of winning a Division IV sectional title and advancing to next week’s district tournament looked all but crushed.
The Red Devils made a late push with baskets by Andrew Hunter and Aaron Starr and tied the game at the buzzer on a putback by Michael Blunk, before outscoring the Commodores 9-5 in overtime for a 65-61 victory.
Arlington (18-4) will meet Spencerville (16-5) in a district semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Wapakoneta. Upper Scioto Valley (22-1) dropped Ada 63-45 in Friday’s first sectional final and will face Marion Local (19-5) in the 8 p.m. contest at Wapak.
“Roller coaster of emotions,” Arlington coach Jason Vermillion said with a laugh. “Up, down-and-out for a few possessions, fought back. I can’t say enough about our kids’ resiliency and perseverance. We got down six or so and we just showed some toughness and made some plays. Seniors did a great job.”
Hunter’s calmness helped spur the Red Devils in the final minute of regulation. The senior point guard’s basket with 46 seconds left made it 54-49.
Perry’s leading scorers Jared Poling, who finished with 18 points, and Bruce Hodges, who netted 12, each missed the front end of 1-and-1 chances and Starr nailed a 3-pointer with 19.8 seconds to play to cut the deficit to 54-52.
With the Red Devils trailing 56-54 with 2.6 seconds remaining, Hunter inbounded from under his own basket to Ryan McDowell. His shot would not fall, but Blunk grabbed the rebound and scored with no time left to tie the game at 56-all.
“That’s what’s nice about having seniors who’ve been a part of a lot of good things the last few years,” Vermillion said. “We’ve been in a lot of big games. They kept their emotions in check and just played it all 32 (minutes). It turned out to be 36.”
Hunter scored six of his team’s nine points in overtime, including four free throws in the final 15 seconds, to finish with 28 points and help his team earn the right to play at least one more game.
“Coach was telling me to get to the hoop,” Hunter said. “I know he always wants me to stay calm, never lose my head. Experience has definitely helped that. I’ve been starting four years so that definitely helps.”
Blunk posted a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Dan Jordan added 10 for Perry (18-5).
In the opening game, Ada gave top-seeded Upper Scioto Valley everything it could handle in the first half and the Rams led just 25-24 at halftime.
Despite outshooting the Bulldogs in the opening half and outrebounding them 11-7, USV’s eight turnovers led to easy baskets and allowed Ada to keep it close.
“It’s such a rivalry that I knew we were going to get their best shot,” USV coach Jeff Kloepfer said. “Defensively, we were reacting to every little movement they were making and getting us out of position. I told the kids at halftime, I said ‘I don’t care who we’re playing, we need to play USV basketball.’ That’s what I thought we did in the second half.”
A 16-3 run to start the third quarter, led by 10 points from Lane Hurley, gave the Rams a 41-29 lead and they entered the final quarter up 41-33.
“Lane really played well,” Kloepfer said.” He shot well. He’s capable of that. He was as calm as anybody could be out on the floor and that’s something you always look for.”
Eight straight points from Dylan Hunsicker in the fourth quarter put USV up 51-38 with 5:28 to play and the Rams ran away from the Bulldogs from there.
Hurley finished with a game-high 29 points and Hunsicker added 12. Brayden Sautter tallied 12 points and Blake Willeke netted 10 for Ada.
“We just couldn’t keep the ball out of the paint,” Ada coach Chris Sautter said. “It’s been a problem all year and it reared its ugly head again tonight. We’ve been in games and haven’t been able to make the big plays that we need to get over the hump and get the ‘W.’”
Sautter 5-1–12, Evans 0-0–0, Willeke 4-2–10, Bass 1-0–2, Ansley 1-0–2, Conley 0-0–0, McBride 2-3–8, Lehsten 1-0–2, Dumbaugh 2-3–7, Archer 1-0–2. TOTALS: 17-46 9-14–45.
upper scioto valley (22-1)
Stephens 0-0–0, Rostorfer 1-1–3, Simon 1-1–3, Howard 2-0–5, Bauer 0-0–0, Hurley 9-9–29, Hunsicker 2-8–12, Evans 0-0–0, Compton 0-0–0, Prater 3-1–7, Parker 1-2–4, Howard 0-0–0. TOTALS: 19-43 21-30–63.
Ada 18 6 9 12 — 45
Upper Scioto Valley 15 10 16 22 — 63
3-Point GOALS: Ada 2-11 (Sautter & McBride); USV 3-12 (Hurley 2, Howard).
rebounds: Ada 15 (Dumbaugh 5); USV 32 (Howard 8).
turnovers: Ada 18, USV 17.
lima perry (18-5)
Sanders 3-1–7, Hodges 6-0–12, Poling 4-9–18, Lane-Harvey 2-1–6, Smith 0-0–0, Monford 4-0–8, Jordan 5-0–10. TOTALS: 24-49 11-17–61.
McDowell 1-0–3, Hunter 8-9–28, Freed 3-0–8, Babb 0-0–0, Green 0-0–0, Starr 3-0–8, Glick 3-1–7, Blunk 4-3–11, Courtney 0-0–0. TOTALS: 22-47 13-19–65.
Perry 12 13 12 19 5 — 61
Arlington 11 12 15 18 9 — 65
3-Point GOALS: Perry 2-7 (Poling & Lane-Harvey); Arlington 8-16 (Hunter 3, Freed & Starr 2, McDowell).
rebounds: Perry 18 (Hodges & Monford 6); Arlington 33 (Blunk 13).
turnovers: Perry 7; Arlington 16.
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