ATHENS — The Grove City Christian School boys basketball team’s season came to an end after a marathon contest against Portsmouth Clay in a Division IV regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio University.
Clay rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat the Eagles 100-97 in two overtimes.
The Panthers, who have won 21 consecutive games, improved to 24-2 and advanced to play Wellington in the regional final at 7 p.m. March 17 at Ohio University.
Grove City Christian, which was making its first regional appearance, finished 22-5.
“When you lose this type of basketball game under these circumstances, it’s not a regular-season game, we know that we’re finished,” Eagles coach Chris Timlin said. “I have a lot of great seniors that are going to go on and do fantastic things, but I don’t have the ability to coach them anymore ... and that’s a difficult reality for me.”
Grove City Christian led 47-33 early in the third quarter before Clay rallied to take its first lead since early in the game at 69-68 on Nate Hinze’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.
The Eagles took a 74-73 lead on Brandon Balnoschan’s 3-pointer with 1:55 remaining and were ahead 75-73 until Clay’s Cameron King scored with 22 seconds left to tie the game at 75 and force overtime.
Leading 84-82 in the first overtime, the Eagles had a chance to secure the win, but Matt Bailey and Stevie Whinham both missed two free-throw attempts in the final minute and Clay’s Caleb Cline followed with two free throws to tie the game at 84 and force the second overtime.
Clay took control in the second overtime, opening a 91-86 lead on a 3-pointer by Hinze.
Brandon Baker led the Eagles with 22 points, followed by Bailey with 19, Balnoschan with 17, Noah Tomlinson with 13 and Hunter Oda with 12.
King had 27 points to lead Clay.
Wellington 50, Waterford 43
Balanced scoring helped Wellington hold off Waterford in the other Division IV semifinal March 14 at Ohio University.
Solomon Pierre-Louis had 15 points, Noah Berry scored 13 and Dallas Patrick scored 10 for the Jaguars, who trailed 16-15 at halftime.
“We came in at halftime and we were motivated,” Pierre-Louis said. “We knew we didn’t play our best basketball. We were focused and determined, so we came out a lot more aggressive and wanted to get back to our game plan and just lock into what we do, which is pound the ball inside, and we got back to our basics.”
Wellington, which improved to 20-7, led 30-27 after the third quarter and took the lead for good midway through the fourth when Bob Faller’s three-point play put the Jaguars ahead 38-35.
The Jaguars, who lost to Willoughby Cornerstone Christian 73-67 in a state semifinal last season, advanced to face Clay in the regional final despite shooting just 16-for-49 (32.7 percent) from the field.
“Defense is our bread and butter,” Jaguars coach Artie Taylor said. “It’s the end of the floor you control every night and, obviously with our shooting woes, it’s the only way we got through.”