With the game’s outcome on the line, the Hornets swarmed to the foul line.
Licking Heights, converting four of 6 free throws in the final 0:06.9 seconds of overtime, escaped with a 67-64 victory over Big Walnut in Saturday’s non-conference action at Big Walnut High School.
The Golden Eagles, closing their regular-season slate with a 9-13 record, had taken a 62-61 lead on Logan Boyd’s jumper as the clock ticked under 45 seconds. But Licking Heights (11-11) answered with an Aaron Tiller rebound basket to take back the lead at 63-62 with 35 seconds remaining. Babe Murphy hit two of three free throw attempts following a Big Walnut turnover for a 65-62 Hornet lead at the 0:06.9-second mark. Kyle Gose would count two free throws to close the gap to 65-64 with 0:06.1 left to play with two free throws, but Heights answered with two free throws to seal the victory.
Big Walnut had opportunities in the final three minutes of regulation to come away a winner. After taking a 50-46 lead on Chase LaVeer’s three-pointer with 6:52 left, the Golden Eagles held leads of 52-50 on two Boyd free throws and 54-52 on a Gose layin at the 4:48 mark. Again Heights had an answer. After Dante Burnett’s reverse layin tied the game at 54-all, free throws by Boyd and Burnett sent the game into overtime deadlocked at 55-55.
“We had our opportunities, but we could not finish” Big Walnut head coach Eric Myers said. “After a slow start in the opening quarter, we picked up our play at both ends of the floor, especially on defense in the second quarter and played out way back into the game.”
The Golden Eagles, down 33-30 at the intermission, came back out and outscored the Hornets 17-11 in the third quarter to take a 47-44 lead into the final eight minutes. Nick Herbert, who paced Big Walnut with 16 points, scored 7 points in a 14-8 run, burying a three to give the hosts 44-41 advantage as the clock ticked under three minutes.
I was pleased with the way we battled out way back into the game … there has been no quit in this team over the course of the season,” Myers said.
Murphy paced Licking Heights with a game-high 19 points. Burnett and Tiller followed with 12 points apiece.
Scoring behind Herbert for Big Walnut were Boyd with 14 points followed by Josh Seabrook with 9 and Matt Tarney and Knight with 8 points apiece.
The Golden Eagles were without the services of two starters in juniors Zac Asher and Michael Buckles, Asher suffered a head injury that required staples to close a gash in Friday night’s loss at Franklin Heights and Buckles suffered a broken nose that required surgery in an earlier loss to Delaware Hayes.
Licking Heights shot 50 percent from the field (26-for-52) for the game, including 1-for-9 from behind the arc and 14-for-26 at the foul line (53.8 percent). Big Walnut was 20-for-51 (39.2 percent) from the floor and 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) in 3-point tries. The Golden Eagles were 18-for-21 (85.7 percent) at the line. The Hornets, led by Murphy with 11 and Tiller with 9 rebounds, claimed a 39-32 edge on the boards. Boyd and Seabrook led the Golden Eagles with 7 apiece.
In turnovers, Licking Heights turned the ball over 14 times in 67 possessions (20.9 percent), losing 16 points to the Golden Eagles while Big Walnut committed 12 turnovers in 66 possessions (18.2 percent), losing 12 points to the Hornets.
Big Walnut opens postseason play on Saturday, February 22, against the Stars of Columbus Centennial (13-8) at 7 p.m. at Centennial High School.
“I’m confident we will bounce back and be ready for Centennial,” Myers said. “It’s a new season and we are 0-0.”
WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE 54, BIG WALNUT 39 — The host Wolves opened up a 9-point, 26-17 halftime lead en route to last Tuesday’s (February 11) Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division boys basketball victory over the visiting Golden Eagles.
Following the halftime break, Kilbourne (13-8, 9-4 OCC) third in the Capital Division behind New Albany (12-7, 10-2 OCC) and Delaware Hayes (17-3, 9-3 OCC), came back out and outscored Big Walnut 17-12 in the third period to take a 14-point 43-29 into the final eight minutes.
Mike Chambers, the lone Kilbourne player to score in double figures, led the Wolves with a game-high 25 points. Seth Hill and J.C. Bartok backed Chambers with 9 and 7 points, respectively.
Zac Asher topped led Big Walnut (9-11, 4-9 OCC) in scoring with 12 points, Logan Boyd joined Asher in double figures with 11 points.
FRANKLIN HEIGHTS 58, BIG WALNUT 39 — En route to the visiting Golden Falcons (19-10, 7-7 OCC) road victory over the host Golden Eagles (10-12, 4-10 OCC) last Friday, Heights jumped out to a 19-7 opening quarter lead and never looked back unb leveling their conference record.
Akiean Frederick paced Franklin Heights with game-highs of 27 points and 18 rebounds. Big Walnut was paced by the Golden Eagles’ Nick Herbert and Logan Boyd with 16 and 14 points respective