GROVE CITY, Ohio -- In the second Division II district final matchup of the afternoon, No. 3 DeSales defeated No. 1 Jonathan Alder in overtime by a score of 32-30.
Despite it being a low scoring contest with a tempo that favored Jonathan Alder for most of the game, DeSales prevailed because of their all around great team effort.
DeSales was led by senior Kobe Righter who finished with 14 points. Righter made huge plays all night that put his team in a place to win the game late.
DeSales also got a lot of their production from juniors Austin Mann and Des Watson. Mann hit the game-winning shot in overtime that gave DeSales a 31-30 lead with 20.5 seconds left. Watson, despite struggling offensively, played well in all other areas of the game and was huge in helping the Stallions win.
The two teams were tied up at 6 at the end of the first quarter. Jonathan Alder jumped out to a lead in the second quarter through the play of senior Jackie Santa-Emma. Santa-Emma finished an impressive mid-air 360 layup and assisted on two other baskets for the Pioneers that helped them take a 16-11 lead into the locker room.
After trading a few buckets, Watson scored his first points of the night on a nice step-through layup, making the Jonathan Alder lead 20-17 with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Five straight points from Righter helped DeSales tie the game at 22 halfway through the final quarter, and a pull up jumper from Watson gave the Stallions a 24-22 lead with 2:58 to go in the game.
Santa-Emma responded on the next possession with a tough spin move into a layup, which ended up being the last points of regulation. DeSales had a chance to win at the end of the fourth quarter with the ball in Watson’s hands, however, his shot fell short and the game went to overtime.
Jonathan Alder took a hit on the first possession of overtime, as Santa-Emma picked up his 5th foul on the first possession. On the following play, Righter buried a clutch three, giving DeSales a 27-24 lead.
Pioneers’ senior Henry Walker went on to score four straight points, giving Jonathan Alder a 28-27 lead with less than two minutes remaining in overtime.
On the other end, Watson came up big, scoring one of his three field goals on a great euro step move. Down one, with less than a minute remaining, Jonathan Alder junior Jackson Izzard knocked down two free throws to give the Pioneers a 30-29 lead.
After a DeSales timeout, the Stallions were taking the ball out under the basket down one and needing a score. That was when Mann, unafraid of the stage, curled off a Watson screen and hit nothing but net on a mid range jumper, giving DeSales a 31-30 lead.
Following more timeouts, Jonathan Alder got off a decent look at a game winning shot, but Izzard’s jumper did not fall. The ball trickled out of bounds off of a Pioneer player, and after another free throw, DeSales came away with the victory.
Righter, Mann, and Watson all headlined the win, but it was truly an incredible team effort for the Stallions. Now district champions, DeSales will go on to play in the regional semifinals on March 12th at 6:15 p.m. at Ohio University.