By Ho Hoffman
YORK TWP. — Winning tradition and experience won out Saturday night as Smithville edged Buckeye 70-65 in overtime in a non-conference boys basketball game.
The game, which resembled a free throw shooting contest more than a basketball game, saw the visiting Smithies rally from a 61-57 deficit with 1:11 remaining in regulation to tie it and send it into overtime.
During the final 1:11 of regulation, the Bucks (0-2) gave up the ball on a steal that led to a fast-break basket by Alex Bates (21 points). After another Buckeye error, Bates was fouled and sank both free throws to tie the game.
Buckeye had a chance to win in regulation, but turned it over with 14 seconds left. Smithville couldn’t take advantage of its last chance.
“That is where Smithville’s tradition and experience gave them the edge,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “They are a winning program and have played these types of games before and know how to finish them off and win it. Our program is not at that point yet.”
In overtime, the Smithies did not make a basket, but converted 9-of-12 free throws and out-rebounded Buckeye 6-3. The Bucks never got anything going offensively, making only 1-of-8 shots from the floor — a tip-in by Brendan Scott.
“We had some very good experience out on the floor in overtime,” Smithville coach Jim Frizell said. “Bates is like a coach on the floor. In clutch situations like this one, he is the player you want out there running the offense and setting up the defense.”
The other experienced player was Frizell’s son, Drew. The younger Frizell led the team with 23 points and was 5-of-6 from the line in overtime. For the game, he connected on 15 chances in 16 attempts, while the rest of the Smithies were 12-of-19.
Ben Checkelsky (15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assist) pretty much carried the Bucks in the second half, taking them from 33-25 down at halftime to the 61-57 lead.
Over that span, Checkelsky scored all 15 of his points, including 11 free throws, pulled down six boards and had three assists. Ryan Ackim (13 points) also helped out in the surge, scoring eight points.
“Ben brought us back into the game,” Saunders said. “But once we got there we couldn’t take advantage of it. I just hope we learned from what happened tonight and will be ready for it the next time we are in a similar situation.”
In the final 20 minutes of play, the teams combined for only 13 baskets but sank 43 free throws.
The Buckeye junior varsity won 43-30. Matt Cox had 15 points for the Bucks and Garret Beck had 14.
Contact Ho Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.