History in Norwalk: Margaretta tops Huron in six overtimes

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Mar 9, 2018 at 4:30 AM

NORWALK — Like all kids with a basketball hoop in the driveway, Dylan Morris often pretended to make game-winning baskets.

But he never pretended he was taking the shot in a sixth overtime.

After Huron’s Michael Hurst tied Thursday’s Division III district semifinal at 80-80 with 22.3 seconds left in a sixth OT, Morris responded at the other end with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 9.1 seconds left that put the Bears up to stay in the 84-82 win that took an incredible 56 minutes to play at Norwalk High School.

“Nick (Leibacher) pushed and when they doubled him he kicked it to me,” Morris said of the game-winning shot. “Coach (Steve) Keller says to shoot with confidence, and that’s what I did. Six overtimes — it definitely wears you down.

“But it’s great, because this program hasn’t been to a district championship game in a long time,” he added. “That’s what we wanted, and this will be a great memory to look back on.”

With the win, Margaretta (13-12) advanced to Saturday’s district title game, where it will face Carey (19-6) — a 56-49 winner in Game 1 Thursday — at 1:30 p.m. back at Norwalk. The Tigers end the season at 10-13.

Thursday’s game was unofficially the third-most overtimes in a game in OHSAA history, and the longest in the past 34 years. The game ended at 10:39 p.m. and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.

“From the start of season, we’ve asked our guys to improve with our toughness and physicality — both mentally and physically,” Margaretta coach Steve Keller said. “I have to say, they showed everyone a lot of mental toughness tonight.

“It’s safe to say few people have been involved in a six-overtime game that goes on this long,” he added. “But our guys really did a nice job of making plays when the chips were down. We will continue to get better and start preparing for Carey, but just so pleased with these young men. They battle and fight.”

Ironically enough, Margaretta led the game by a 13-2 margin to start, and looked like it was going to run away with it late in the opening quarter. The Bears led 13-9 after one, 21-15 at halftime — and 29-26 through three quarters.

Huron’s Michael Hurst gave the Tigers a 44-43 lead with 1:01 left in regulation, only for Morris to split a pair of free throws with 15.8 seconds left to tie it at 44 and force the first overtime.

Huron actually led 48-44 in the first OT with 2:54 left, only to see the Bears score twice in the last 1:20, with Bailey Kimberlin tying it at 48-all with 43.4 seconds to go.

In the second OT, Margaretta was up 54-51 with just 21.7 seconds left, then got the ball back and had two free throws with 8.6 left.

But the Bears missed both free throws, and Huron’s Chris Davis — who attempted just one 3-pointer in the entire season to date — drained a triple from the right wing at the horn to force the third OT.

“Give Chris credit for that shot, and our guys were definitely a little down in that moment,” Keller said. “And I got on them in a positive way, trying to bring them back up.

“But listen, they did it,” he added. “They got it done, give them all the credit for finding a way to come out on top tonight.”

Each team only scored six points each in the third extra session, going back-and-forth with each basket to move on to OT No. 4 at 60-all.

It was more of the same in the fifth OT, with a 65-65 deadlock as neither team could finish at the free-throw line or from the floor.

In the fifth OT, it was Huron grabbing a 68-66 lead with 2:17 left, only to see the Bears go up 69-68 on a basket by Morris with 1:04 to go.

Drew Wennes drained a 3 to put Huron ahead 71-69 with 35.8 seconds left, but the Bears got a basket from Brycetyn Hedden with 19.8 seconds left that eventually forced the sixth OT.

Huron trailed 78-74 with only 43.4 seconds left — yet still managed to tie the game yet again. Trading baskets with free throw attempts by the Bears, Huron got it to 80-77 when Hurst tied it with his 3, which then set up Morris for his go-ahead triple.

Even then, at 83-80 and just 5.4 seconds left — it wasn’t safe.

Huron got a free throw by Hurst with 2.1 seconds left to make it 84-82, and Margaretta was whistled for a travel with 0.5 seconds left on the intentionally-missed free throw by Hurst.

The Tigers had an inbounds pass underneath the basket, but no shot was made as the pass went awry to finally end the game.

“They made a couple more plays than we did, the kids played really hard obviously,” Huron coach Bobby James said. “We had a nice group of seniors, and I give them a lot of credit for getting to this game and then competing like that.

“We really had our chances to win and didn’t finish the game and they did,” he added.

For Margaretta, Kimberlin finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Hedden had 17 points, Morris scored 16 and Leibacher added 13.

Huron got 29 points from Hurst, while Wennes added 21 points and Casey VanCauwenbergh had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

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