PIQUA – The Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks invaded Piqua High School with high hopes as they met the Jackson Center Tigers in round one sectional play of the Ohio High School Athletic Association boys basketball tournament.
The No. 10 seeded Blackhawks were facing the Tigers, who were seeded No. 4. Despite a strong effort that kept them in the game until the final minute MV fell to Jackson Center 47-39.
Offense was a rare commodity in the first quarter. Mississinawa Valley controlled the opening tip and held the ball for nearly two minutes before finally missing a shot. Neither team would score until Brady Wildermuth, who led all scorers with 22 points, sank a free throw with 1:34 remaining to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Another Wildermuth field goal and a Bryce Sosby triple just before the buzzer gave Jackson Center a 6-0 first period lead.
The Blackhawks found the range in the second quarter and continued to play solid defense for their own part. Their main battle on the evening was keeping the ball out of the hands of the 6-foot 6-inch Wildermuth in scoring position. Each team put up 10 points in the period to yield a 16-10 halftime score in favor of Jackson Center.
The Tigers slowly began to increase their lead in the third quarter. They pushed the advantage to 27-15 at one point then Trent Perkins went on a personal 5-0 run for the Blackhawks to cut the deficit to 27-20 nearing the end of the stanza. But once again just before the horn sounded Sosby connected for another 3-ball to push the lead to 30-20 heading into the final eight minutes.
“Last second shots,” MV coach Tim Barga said. “They’ve killed us the three years I’ve been at Mississinawa … Two of three quarters they hit them. We start chasing the ball, and they get wide open. That really hurt us. Kids didn’t quit and didn’t give up.”
The Tigers maintained a 9 to 11 point lead throughout much of the final period. You could tell from their effort and desire that the Blackhawks still believed they could win.
With 1:05 remaining Jackson Center hit two free throws to lead 45-34. Ethan Bowman hit a 3-pointer for Mississinawa Valley, making it 45-37. A Tiger free throw miss at 41.8 seconds, two more Jackson Center free throw misses and a Blackhawk basket made it a 45-39 game with around 20 seconds remaining.
The ensuing inbounds play, time running off the clock and two Tiger free throws sealed the deal for Jackson Center, 47-39.
Bowman had 12 points to pace the Blackhawk scorers. Perkins had 11, and DJ Howell added 7.
When asked about his three seniors, Trent Perkins, Andrew Johns and Darin Miller, Coach Barga said: “They got more out of themselves than they thought. I’m real happy the way they played. I hope they’re happy with the way they progressed.”