By SCOTT COTTOS
FOSTORIA — Fostoria High School did just about everything in its power to beat Carey on Tuesday night — except close the deal.
Senior Cody Luzader’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:23 remaining held up as the winning basket after a chaotic final 18 seconds as the Blue Devils escaped with a 49-48 nonconference boys basketball victory.
Carey (15-6), which has won three straight, couldn’t take an easy breath until the Redmen’s Dylan Sheets fired just a bit long on a hurried 3-pointer just before the buzzer. And even then, Blue Devils coach Jamie Young was thanking his lucky stars for a win on senior night at Fostoria (3-17), which has dropped 11 in a row.
“Fostoria came out and played hard,” Young said. “They wanted this game. You could tell right away by the way they came out. Their seniors were stepping up, and (Fostoria junior Aneas) Cousin is a load.
“We got lucky and squeaked it out. It’s one of those situations where sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and tonight we were lucky. I don’t know how good we were, but we were lucky.”
On the other hand, Redmen coach Thom Loomis liked everything except the outcome.
“I told them I’m just as proud of that group of young men as I’ve ever been in my life,” Loomis said. “We finally came and executed an offensive and defensive came plan for 32 minutes and battled the number-3-seeded team in our (Division III Shelby) district right down to the wire.
“Carey is tough, and we knew it. And we did everything we could. We threw everything at them that we could. One more offensive execution on one possession and it’s a different outcome.”
Luzader, who recently went past the 1,000-point mark for his career, matched 6-foot-7 sophomore Hayden Stone with 11 points to pace the Blue Devils.
Cousin, a 6-1 junior, finished with 17 points and four rebounds, and Maalik Tucker notched 10 points, and three assists for Fostoria.
Neither team claimed a double-figure lead in a contest that came down to one final shot after both teams had two turnovers apiece in the last 18 seconds.
Sheets came up with a steal on the left wing in Carey’s backcourt in front of the Fostoria bench as the clock ticked off the final seconds. The junior managed to squeeze off a rushed shot from behind the 3-point line, but it wouldn’t go.
“Gosh, our defense at the end — great denial, got a turnover, got a look from probably the best 3-point shooter in the school,” Loomis said. “Can’t ask for much more than that except for it to go in.”
The Blue Devils scored the game’s first five points for their biggest lead. The Redmen went on a 13-0 run through parts of the first and second quarters to lead 23-14 with 6:18 remaining before halftime. Casey Crawford made a pair of free throws to return the lead to Carey at 24-23 with 2:13 left in the half.
And the stage was set for a donnybrook to the end.
Key for Fostoria was its ability to slow down Stone, who finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots after scoring seven of his points before halftime.
Last year as a 6-4 freshman, Stone recorded a triple-double of 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 70-55 win over Fostoria at Carey.
“Our guys took it to heart,” Loomis said. “They knew that. They remembered that. And they were bound and determined that he wasn’t getting a triple-double this year. A heck of a lot of credit to Eli Ward, Kasey Finsel, Alex Sierra and Aneas Cousin. Those guys played him in the bottom of our 2-3 matchup zone and they worked their tails off to make him work for everything they got.”
But while the 5-9 Luzader had just six points in the first three periods, he scored the Blue Devils’ last five points in a span of about 4 minutes of the fourth quarter and also came up with two steals down the stretch.
“Cody stepped it up the last few minutes,” Young said of the senior, who has signed to play football at the University of Findlay. “He got some steals and he hit some shots. That’s what we expect out of our senior leaders — to make big plays.”
Brayden Wentling distributed four assists for Carey, which also got four steals from Trey Bame.
Ward snared eight rebounds and Karsen Bemis came up with a pair of steals for the Redmen.
Wentling 2-1–5, Bame 3-0–8, Stone 5-1–11, Luzader 4-0–11, Crawford 1-2–4, Summit 1-0–2, Dasher 0-0–0, Smiley 3-0–8, Plott 0-0–0. TOTALS: 19-45 4-7 — 49.
Anderson 3-0–8, Boff 1-0–2, Cousin 7-1–17, Finsel 0-0–0, Tucker 5-0–10, Sierra 0-1–1, Ward 2-0–4, Bemis 1-3–6, Sheets 0-0–0. TOTALS: 19-40 5-8 — 48.
Carey 14 11 16 8 — 49
Fostoria 14 10 19 5 — 48
3-Point GOALS: Carey 7-18 (Luzader 3, Bame & Smiley 2); Fostoria 5-10 (Anderson & Cousin 2, Bemis 1).
rebounds: Carey 23 (Stone 10); Fostoria 21 (Ward 8).
turnovers: Carey 7; Fostoria 15.
junior varsity: Carey, 72-34.
Freshmen: Carey, 72-49.