KIRTLAND—Jeremy Davis scored a game-high 29 points but it was his layup with three seconds left in overtime that made the biggest difference in Kirtland’s 65-63 victory over visiting Cardinal on Friday.
The Hornets took possession with 38 seconds left and the game tied, 63-63. Davis made his move with 10 seconds remaining.
“Our coach told us to wait until we get to 15 seconds and then I got the ball,” Davis said. “I just kind of drove, I don't know, I just saw an open lane and I just took it and didn't look back.”
Davis’ heroics wouldn’t have been necessary if the Hornets, who were playing without starting point guard Palmer Capretta, didn’t claw their way back into the game in the second half after trailing by as many as 18 in the second quarter.
“We were a little out of rhythm from the get-go from a rebounding standpoint, guys playing different spots and different minutes,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “I give all the credit to Cardinal. I really thought they played extremely hard, harder than us, that's for sure. They were out rebounding us, getting the 50-50 balls, especially in the first half. In the third quarter and fourth quarter we inched away at them.”
Matt Carney, who scored nine points for Cardinal, fouled out early in the final frame and the already depth-challenged Huskies struggled against Kirtland’s pressure defense.
The Hornets used an 8-0 run to climb back into the game and trailed 50-49 before Luke Timas snapped the Kirtland scoring streak with four minutes left in regulation.
A foul and a technical foul sent the Hornets to the line with a chance to take their first lead of the game with 3:10 left.
“The kids played hard,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “It's just so tough because we get in these situations and we need to win these games to get over the hump. After losing all those games then winning one the other day and this one, being right in it, it's really tough. We missed some opportunities on turnovers, free throws, kids fouling out, technicals, you can't have that. Our youth definitely showed tonight in that situation.”
Kyle Work hit 1-of-2 free throws and Davis hit both of his to tie the game at 52.
A Cardinal turnover led to a Work put back, which put the Hornets on top, 54-52, but Timas once again stepped up for the Huskies to tie it at 54. Each team hit a pair of free throws to force overtime with the game tied, 56-56.
Parker Kosh opened the extra frame with a 3-pointer to give Cardinal a 59-56 lead then he too fouled out.
A series of free throws, two from Timas, four from Davis and one from Cardinal’s Brice Hogue, gave the Huskies a 62-60 lead.
Robbie Mulh then fouled out after scoring a team-high 17 points for the Huskies.
Dylan Fulco hit 1-of-2 free throws to pull Kirtland to within 62-61 when Dominic Capretta pulled down a defensive rebound and fed Tommy Powers for a 63-62 Hornet lead with 1:17 to play.
Austin Klatik connected on a free throw to tie it at 63-63 with under a minute left in overtime.
That set up Davis’ game-winner.
“I thought we showed some grit at the end,” Gallo said. “What a great game for our younger guys, Dom Capretta, Adam Mueller, Tommy Powers, down the line. Sophomores getting that kind of experience in a varsity basketball game, whatever happened, it was a great win, but to give those guys the opportunity to be on the floor in those kind of minutes is just a great experience for them.”
Brandon Samsa joined Davis in double figures with 16 points for the Hornets.
“They were going to get more shots (without Palmer Capretta in the lineup),” Gallo said. “When you lose 15-plus points out of your rotation, we've got to go somewhere. (Davis) shot the ball better tonight. He's been struggling from the outside. To see him put the ball in, it was a high volume of shots to get the 29, but he made the big play at the end. He wants the ball in his hand and showing leadership, calling plays. That three-headed monster of Brandon, Palmer and Jeremy is hard to cover. We only had two of them tonight, but we've asked so much of him and Brandon on both ends of the floor. It was a great opportunity for him to get some confidence back. That was the biggest thing.”
Kosh finished with 13 points and Timas added 10 for the Huskies.
Mulh led Cardinal with 12 rebounds while Hayden Cummins had 10.
“There's a lot to be taken from this,” Cummins said. “We played really hard. The kids went out and took it personal, as far as me challenging them defensively to play better. They were very physical and the refs let us play, so it worked in our favor. Instead of other teams pushing us around we were able to do that to them and we got some offensive rebounds. I was proud of every one of my kids from the first kid to the last kid. Klatik came in late in the game after not playing much. At halftime, he didn't play at all in the first half, he was the first one cheering everyone on and being a good teammate. That means a lot. Team camaraderie and unity is what makes the difference.”
Kirtland 65, Cardinal 63 (OT)
Cardinal: Bruncak 3, Carney 9, Hogue 8, Mulh 17, Timas 10, Kosh 13, Cummins 2, Klatik 1
Kirtland (5-2, 4-1 CVC): D. Capretta 8, Samsa 16, Davis 29, Fulco 1, Work 9, Powers 2
Cardinal 18 16 11 11 7 — 65
Kirtland 10 16 15 15 9 — 63
Free throws: Cardinal 14 of 27, Kirtland 20 of 28; 3-pointers: Cardinal 7 (Carney 2, Mulh, Kosh 3), Kirtland 5 (Samsa 2, Davis 3); JV: Kirtland 65, Cardinal 18