Saturday, March 20th, 2010
By Ryan Hines
Heartbreaking loss for Fort Recovery in OT
Division IV Boys Regional Final at Kettering Fairmont
KETTERING - A pair of state-ranked teams squared off on Friday night at Kettering Fairmont's Trent Arena for a Division IV regional championship and a berth in the state tournament.
It turned out to be a heavyweight fight that was well worth the price of admission for those in attendance.
Fort Recovery erased a 16-point deficit in the second half to force overtime, but the Indians' rally fell short in the extra session as Dayton Jefferson triumphed, 55-51.
Jefferson, the eighth-ranked team in D-IV at season's end, advances to the state tournament for the first time since 1997-98, when the Broncos won the state crown with an OT victory over Delphos St. John's. The Broncos will face Bedford Chanel on Friday at 2 p.m. in a state semifinal matchup.
For Fort Recovery (21-4) fans, the loss is hard to accept after watching the Indians rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half.
Jefferson led 28-16 at halftime and the Broncos' Cody Latimer scored two quick buckets to start the third quarter that pushed the lead to 16 points.
After scoring just four points in the first half, Greg Kahlig began to take over the game for Fort Recovery.
Kahlig scored six straight points that led to a Jefferson timeout with the Broncos still in front 32-22. Kahlig continued to blister the Jefferson defense with dribble penetration and the only way that the Broncos could stop him was to foul. Kahlig scored 16 points in the third quarter, aided by an 8-of-10 showing at the free-throw line.
The third-quarter offensive explosion by Kahlig left the Indians down by five points at 40-35 going into the fourth quarter.
Jefferson began to focus its efforts on stopping Kahlig, but then the Indians' standout found Wade Gelhaus open for layups on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth quarter and the Indians were down by just three points at 44-41 with 5:21 left in the game.
Kahlig then tied the game at 44-44 after a free throw and a slithering drive to the basket with 3:17 to play. Kahlig struck again with another beautiful drive to the basket that gave Fort Recovery a 46-44 advantage, the first lead of the game for the Indians.
"We've seen them play four times this year and in each game they showed the ability to make big comebacks after struggling early," said Winston. "We never took our lead for granted because we knew they were going to make a run.
"That kid is just a great basketball player," added Winston of Kahlig. "He has the ability to will his team back into the game and he did that in the second half. Once he gets on a roll, he can carry his team and that's what he did."
The game then took a turn for the worse for Fort Recovery as Jefferson's Adreian Payne hit a turnaround jumper while being fouled by Kahlig. Although Payne missed the go-ahead free throw, Kahlig was then called for his fifth personal foul just four seconds later and the Indians' leader was out for the rest of the game with 2:05 left to play.
"I didn't think that it was much of a foul, they hadn't called anything like that all night leading up to it," said Kahlig. "Our guys really battled and played hard without me in there and it was tough to watch them from the sidelines and not be able to help them. It was painful to just have to sit there."
"Greg getting his fifth foul was the key in the game," said Patch. "Disappointing isn't even the word to describe it... (It was like) ripping my heart out on the spot to be honest with you. Not that I didn't have confidence in my team to be able to come back and make plays, but Greg was just so good in the second half and you have to like your chances with him being on the floor with the way he was playing."
Not having Kahlig on the floor in the final two minutes of the game is certainly not the ideal situation for Fort Recovery, but Gelhaus put the Indians on top 48-46 with 1:26 left in the game with a nice drive past Payne for two.
Jefferson answered the Gelhaus bucket when Dwight Johnson hit a deep three, his first points of the game, to put the Broncos on top 49-48 with just 42 seconds left on the clock.
Cody Fiely had a chance to put the Indians up by one with 35 seconds left in regulation but made just one-of-two at the free-throw line to tie the score at 49-all.
Fort Recovery then went with an unusual strategy at the end of regulation in a tied game by fouling Johnson on purpose with seven seconds left on the clock. Johnson missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity and Gelhaus' desperation heave from just inside halfcourt was off the mark to trigger overtime.
"When Greg went out, they could have easily folded, but they didn't," said Patch. "They kept battling and showed a lot of heart and character."
Not having Kahlig on the floor in overtime hurt the Indians badly as Fort Recovery struggled against Jefferson's defensive pressure and turned the ball over four times in the extra session as the Broncos took control.
Johnson drove to the basket for two and Payne hit one-of-two from the charity stripe as Jefferson took a 52-49 lead with 2:26 to play in overtime.
Gelhaus pulled Fort Recovery to within one point on a nice drive to the basket, but the Indians went scoreless the rest of the way and Jefferson secured the four-point win.
It's a disappointing end to a great season for the Indians.
"My first year here, this group of seniors was in sixth grade," said Patch. "Just a great group of guys that have been a pleasure to coach and they have just represented Fort Recovery so well during their careers. They won a MAC (Midwest Athletic Conference) title and made it to the regional, so they have a lot to be proud of.
"We've talked all year long to theses guys about leaving their mark on Fort Recovery basketball and I told them that they definitely did," continued Patch. "We didn't get to state, but this team won't be forgotten. Great group of guys on this team."
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