The Golden Eagles were up to the challenge …
Big Walnut, which led by as many as 16 points midway through the third quarter, held off a determined Franklin Heights fourth-quarter comeback with ball-handling and defense in a 53-48 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory Friday night in Sunbury.
The Golden Eagles rolled into the fourth quarter with a 40-29 advantage. After senior Nick Herbert buried a three and junior Matt Tarney counted a layin off a Herbert feed for a 45-35 lead with 5:10 to play, Franklin Heights (7-4, 4-2 OCC) came to life.
The Falcons heated up from beyond the arc with four treys, including back-to-back threes by senior guard Jon Tinker to close to within four of the lead at 48-44 on junior Josh Williams three with 1:58 remaining in the contest.
Big Walnut (6-6, 2-5 OCC) refused to back down. Working the clock, the Golden Eagles made good on 8 of 13 free throw attempts while taking away the Falcons’ inside game and limiting them to four free throws over the final two minutes.
“Our defense stepped up its game on the strength of the play of Chase (LaVeer) and Josh (Seabrook),” Big Walnut head coach Eric Myers said.” Franklin Heights came out in the fourth quarter and hit some threes, but we answered at the free throw line down the stretch to maintain our lead … and that was huge.”
The Falcons closed to within two of the lead at 48-46 with 0:55.4 remaining on a pair of free throws by senior post Akiean Frederick. Senior Logan Boyd and Herbert sank three free throws apiece in the final 46 seconds to close out the Falcons.
“We did a good job with our zone keeping Franklin Heights away from the basket for much of the game, especially in the fourth quarter,” Myers said. “We also did a go0d job of handling the ball under their full-court pressure, especially by not turning the ball over at the end. That forced them to foul us and we took advantage at the line … I applaud our players’ efforts with the game on the line.”
Herbert led Big Walnut with a game-high 20 points, which included a 9-for-11 effort at the free throw line. Junior Zac Asher followed Herbert in double figures with 11 points. Frederick, the lone led Franklin Heights in double figures, finished with 17 points.
The Golden Eagles shot 50 percent (16-for-32) for the game, including 70 percent (7-for-10) from beyond the arc. They were 14-for-20 (70 percent) at the free throw line. The Falcons were 15-for-41 (36.6 percent) from the field 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) from 3-point range. They were 13-for-19 (68.4 percent) at the line.
Franklin Heights, led by the 6-foot-6 Frederick, who collected 7 rebounds, and senior Johnathan Tinker and junior Jeilani Jeilani, who pulled down 6 apiece, claimed a 30-25 edge on the glass. Asher and Seabrook pulled down 4 apiece for Big Walnut.
The Golden Eagles committed 14 turnovers in 50 possessions, a 28 percent turnover rate, while the Falcons turned the ball over 13 times in 54 possessions, a 24.1 percent rate. Big Walnut scored 1o points off Falcon turnovers while Franklin Heights collected 15 points off Golden Eagle turnovers.
In a final thought on the victory, Myers said “It feels good to reach the .500 mark.”
OLENTANGY ORANGE 52, BIG WALNUT 43 - OT — The Pioneers, down trailing 30-25 going into the final quarter, outscored the Golden Eagles 15-10 in the fourth period to send the game into overtime deadlocked at 40-40. Once in the extra session, host Orange converted 10 of 12 free throws to outscore visiting Big Walnut 12-3 en route to their first win of the season with the 9-point margin of victory in last Wednesday’s (January 8) Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division matchup.
Orange (1-7, 1-4 OCC) was led by the double-figure scoring of 6-foot-2 freshman forward Jay Joseph who posted a game-high 16 points. Sophomore guard Colin Shepherd followed with 14 and 6-6 sophomore post Grant Gossard and senior guard Dave Dawson with 9 points apiece.
Senior Logan Boyd, who cashed in on 9 free throws, topped Big Walnut (5-6, 1-5 OCC) with 11 points. Junior Zach Asher followed with 7 points while senior Nick Herbert and sophomore Josh Seabrook, with a pair of threes, contributed 6 points apiece.
The Pioneers finished with a 17-11 edge at the charity stripe while claiming a 32-17 advantage on the boards.