BW upsets ninth-seeded Licking Heights 76-75 in OT
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
PATASKALA — For one of the few times this season, the Golden Eagles looked defeat in the the eye … and came away with a victory.
Big Walnut, led by the dominating performance of 6-foot-5 senior post Adam Shaheen, who scored a game and career-high 44 points on his way to a double-double with a career and game-high 20 rebounds, to lead the Golden Eagles to a 76–75 overtime upset of ninth-seeded host Licking Heights (18–5) in a Division II Central District Sectional Semifinal contest Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles (7–16), had to come from behind to send the game into overtime and then rally in the closing seconds to advance to today’s (Thursday, February 28) Sectional Final matchup with seventh-seeded Columbus Eastmoor Academy on the Warriors’ home floor.
Eastmoor Academy (16–7) advanced with a 65–31 victory over Licking Valley on Saturday.
“We battled, we never quit … we just kept battling, and it paid off in the end,” BW head coach Eric Myers said. “Throughout the season we had been in these situations before, today we were able to finish.”
Trailing 62–59 with :19.6 remaining in regulation, Shaheen, hobbling after twisting an ankle on the previous series when sophomore Kyle Gose sank a three to get the Golden Eagles within three with 21 seconds left, buried a trey with 6 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime deadlocked at 62–62.
The Hornets opened the extra-session with a 9–3 run to open up a 71–65 lead on a three by 6–3 senior guard John Righter and and fast-break lay-in off steal by 5–11 junior guard Blake Beaver with 1:13 to play. The Golden Eagles were 73 seconds away from postseason elimination …but they were not ready to give in to the Hornets.
Shaheen. who had 4 slam-dunks in the contest, stopped the Licking Heights’ run with 2 free throws off an offensive rebound followed by senior Zach Laughman’s trey to cut the deficit to 72–70 with :46.6 seconds remaining. After a Righter free throw gave the Hornets a 73–70 edge with :41.7 ticks left, sophomore Matt Tarney counted one of two free throws and Shaheen converted a 3-point play to give the Golden Eagles a 74–73 advantage with :17.9 to play.
On the Hornets’ ensuing trip down court, Shaheen committed his fifth personal sending 6–2 junior forward Dante Burnette to the line for a 2-shot foul with 14 seconds left. Burnett dropped in both throws and the hosts had regained the lead at 75–74.
Big Walnut hustled the ball down court, got it to Laughman in front of the Golden Eagle bench where he was fouled as he launched a three with 8.5 seconds to play. Laughman, who backed Shaheen with 15 points, watched his first free throw rim out of the basket, but calmly sank the next two for the 76–75 come-from-behind victory.
“We dressed 14 for today’s game, and played 13. Every one contributed in one way or another … it was a complete team effort on our part,” Myers said. “Licking Heights is a good team. They never backed down … they kept coming after us and took the game down to the final buzzer.”
The Hornets scored a 67–49 regular-season home victory the Golden Eagles 67–49 back on February 12.
Big Walnut, which was 16-for-35 (45.7 percent) from the field in the second half, finished with a 37.3 field goal percentage (22-for-59) for the game. They were 26-for-38 (68.4 percent) at the line.
Licking Heights shot 46.2 percent (18-for-39) for the game and 12-for 22 (54.5) in the second half. The Hornets were 27-for-51 (52.9 percent) at the line.
The tightly-called game saw a total of 64 fouls whistled with 6 players exiting on fouls (4 Hornets and 2 Golden Eagles). Licking Heights, led by by 6–4 junior guard Babe Murphy and 6–2 junior forward Doug Benniefield with 8 rebounds apiece claimed a 50–43 edge on the glass. sophomore Zachary Asher backed Shaheen with 4 boards.