CARROLL, Ohio -- The fans came out in full force on Tuesday night for the rematch between the top two teams in the MSL-Buckeye, and they got their money’s worth.
Bloom-Carroll (15-5) defeated Fairfield Union (18-3) in overtime by a score of 52-49. The Bulldogs avenged their previous loss on January 11th when they were narrowly defeated by just two points at Fairfield Union. Now tied for first place, both teams must win on Friday in their respective matchups to maintain that top spot and get a share of the league title.
Bloom-Carroll senior Otto Kuhns put the team on his back tonight, compiling a stat line of 25 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. Kuhns made plays all night, but especially when it mattered most. When his team’s back was up against the wall, he delivered in a big way.
The two talented teams were all knotted up after one quarter at 13. Fairfield Union senior Chase Poston came out of the gate firing, drilling two pull up jumpers and recording two assists.
In the second quarter, Kuhns began to really turn it on, causing havoc on the defensive end and getting out to score in transition. Bloom-Carroll outscored the Falcons 11-6 in the second quarter and took a 24-19 lead into the locker room.
Fairfield Union came out of halftime motivated as ever, going on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 26. Junior Ryan Magill hit two tough pull ups and assisted on a Poston three-pointer that tied the game up. A couple of plays later, Magill was on the floor during a loose ball which ended up awarding Fairfield Union possession.
The 6-foot-4 guard scored or assisted on all but one basket for Fairfield Union in the third quarter. He was making winning plays that allowed the Falcons to tie the game up going into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was back and forth as there were five lead changes down the final stretch of the game. To open up the quarter, Fairfield Union senior Huston Harrah scored an impressive bucket in the post giving his team a 34-32 lead. But as he seemed to do all night, Kuhns responded for Bloom-Carroll with a tough lay in on the other end.
On the following possession, Harrah scored another two in the paint only for Kuhns to knock down two free throws at the other end to tie the game up again at 36 with six minutes remaining.
Magill knocked down two more impressive mid-range pull ups for the Falcons, the second cut the Bloom-Carroll lead down to one with 4:01 remaining, 41-40. Despite a lack of scoring, the last four minutes were jam packed with action and emotions.
Bloom-Carroll sophomore Jared Rose, who played excellent and consistent throughout the entire contest, hit one of his handful of off the dribble jumpers late in the fourth quarter, giving the Bulldogs a 43-40 lead.
Kuhns ended up at the free throw line, hitting one of two free throws to put Bloom-Carroll up 44-40. In need of a bucket, Fairfield Union had the ball in Magill’s hands. After receiving a screen from Harrah and getting doubled, he kicked it back to the big man who knocked down a cold-blooded three with 38.8 seconds left in the game.
After another one for two trip to the free throw line for Bloom-Carroll, Fairfield Union came down the floor down by two with a chance to tie or win the game. To no surprise, Kuhns came up with another big play, blocking a wide open layup attempt that would have tied the game for the Falcons.
The Bulldogs couldn’t put the game away with free throws on the other end, so with 12.2 seconds remaining Magill came down the floor and threw up a contested layup, only to be saved by junior Andrew Moll who skied up and tipped the ball back in.
Moll was efficient all game and a key piece to Fairfield Union’s success. He exemplified that on his buzzer-beating tip that sent the game into overtime tied at 45, and sent the gym into a massive eruption.
Through its big men Harrah and Moll, Fairfield Union scored the first two baskets of the overtime period to take a 49-45 lead. It felt like they were about to put the game away, that was until Kuhns delivered once again, drilling a deep three and scoring a heavily contested layup to give Bloom-Carroll a 50-49 lead with 52.3 left.
With the score still the same, Fairfield Union called a timeout with 11.3 seconds remaining, looking to draw up the final shot that would win the game. Out of the timeout, they got the look that they wanted, however couldn’t convert as Harrah missed the inside shot.
Sophomore Evan Dozer sunk the final two points for the Bulldogs at the charity stripe and Poston’s full-court heave was blocked at the buzzer, giving Bloom-Carroll the well deserved and impressive win over the Falcons.
Bloom-Carroll earned this hard fought victory and has now put themselves in a position to be co-league champions. They must win Friday when they travel to Hamilton Township and Fairfield Union must defeat TeaYs Valley at home for both squads to secure their share of the title.