The Whiteoak Wildcats finished out their regular season in style, defeating East Clinton in overtime on their home floor.
The game began a back and forth affair with both teams plagued by turnovers. A fast-paced game led to easy baskets near the rim for both teams. The Wildcats stretched their lead to as many as six points, but the Astros hung around with the score 15-13 after one quarter of play.
The second period followed suit. Neither team could gain a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball which is credit to solid defense by both teams. With both teams stagnant on offense, the Wildcats were able to take a 27-22 lead to halftime.
The third period was a different story. The Astros began to find holes in the Wildcats defense, specifically soft help-side defense by the Wildcats led to easy baskets near the rim. The Astros also turned up their defensive intensity only allowing the Wildcats to score five points in the third quarter. The Astros began to pull away, taking a 40-32 lead to the fourth.
The fourth quarter began much like the third concluded. The Wildcats began to force shots to get back in the game while the Astros were getting easy points near the basket. However, the Wildcats were far from finished, gradually chipping away at the deficit. Down by three nearing the end of the game, the Wildcats needed a big time play and Stephen Ross delivered. With eight seconds remaining in regulation, Ross swished a three-point bucket to tie the game at 59. After the Astros threw a lob to the basket coming off a time out, the ball went out of bounds to give the Wildcats one last shot. With 1.3 seconds left in regulation, there wasn’t much time for the Wildcats to get in reasonable range for a game winning shot, but credit Traeton Hamilton for nearly making a shot from beyond half-court.
The Wildcats carried their momentum from the end of regulation to overtime. The Wildcats were able to stretch their lead to as many as eight. Despite only converting four of fourteen free throw attempts in overtime, the Wildcats were able to polish off the comeback effort and defeat the Astros 72-65.
Whiteoak had three players that scored at least 17 points on the night with Zach Rand leading the way with 20 points and a perfect four of four performance at the line. Trever Yeager was next for the Wildcats with 18 points on the night and Traeton Hamilton rounded out the group with 17 points on the night.
Ross, Charlie Skinner and Michael Crowe also scored for Whiteoak with eight, five and four points respectively.
East Clinton: 13-9-18-19-6
Whiteoak: Rand 8-4/4-20; T. Yeager 3(1)-9/17-18; Hamilton 4(2)-3/8-17; Ross 1(2)-8; Skinner 1-3/4-5; Crowe 2-0/4-4; Carr 0/2-0; B. Yeager 0/2-0
East Clinton: Floyd 7-7/14-21; Michael 3(3)-0/1-15; McCarron 4(1)-2/4-13; Pence 4-1/2-9; Smith 1-1/3-3; Jenkins ½-1; Z. Mitchell ½-1; M. Mitchell 0/2-0
Spencer Michael is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.