By Drew Terhall
ANSONIA — The Ansonia boys basketball team pulled out the home win over Fairlawn, 67-63, in overtime on Feb. 10.
Two underclassmen for the Tiger stepped up big to help give the Tigers the win. Freshman Bennett Lehman made two free throws to tie the game, 58-58, with 9.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Ben Barnt drained a three to get the scoring going for the Tigers in overtime. Head coach Tony Overton said both players are guys who want to do anything they can to help their team win. They got that opportunity in this game.
“They do it everyday in practice. That’s why we put them out there. Ben’s not the most skilled person, but he’s a gamer. He wants the ball in his hands and I see it in practice. I decided to give him a chance and he came through. Bennett as well,” Overton said. “Kids like that, that want the ball in their hands, they don’t necessarily have to score. They just want to be a part of it and make the right decisions.”
It was an up and down first half. Ansonia led 34-27 at halftime, but had some chances to break the game open.
They started the game on an 8-0 run, but Fairlawn was able to hang around after that. Late in the second quarter, Fairlawn tied the game 25-25. Senior Landyn Bowman made a three to give Ansonia back the lead to respond.
The same pattern happened in the third quarter. The offense wasn’t able to get into a sustainable flow while the defense was doing their part in keeping the lead.
Overton said the offense struggles in the half court and are trying out different combinations to see what fits. With their depleted numbers and splitting guys between varsity and junior varsity, the team was able to do enough of the basics to pull out the win.
“They’re figuring it on their own. Value the basketball and take what the defense gives you. Don’t try to do too much, don’t try to be a hero. They didn’t,” Overton said.
A three by Lehman at the buzzer gave Ansonia a 48-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Then the Jets started to get rolling offensively. Fairlawn got into a rhythm making some shots outside and getting to the rim.
With the offense not being able to keep up, Fairlawn tied the game 55-55 with about 1:50 left. The Jets got their first lead of the game with 1:20 left.
The Tigers didn’t quit. Lehman got those two free throws to send it into overtime and Barnt got the three to take the lead.
Bowman followed it up with a deep three of his own. It looked like Ansonia would roll through overtime, until Fairlawn fought back.
The Jets were close behind, down 65-62, with 4.2 seconds left and had the ball. Ansonia couldn’t make enough of their free throws to extend their lead.
But, the defense played it smart and fouled the ball handler immediately as Fairlawn was already in the bonus. The Jets split the two free throws and Ansonia held on for the win.
Senior Ethan Reichert led the team with 29 points. When he was going, the offense was humming. Senior Matt Barga had 11 points and Lehman had 10 points. Bowman finished with nine points.
Ansonia is now 5-16 on the season with a 2-8 WOAC record. They will end the regular season on the road at Tri-County North on Feb. 16 at 7:15 p.m.
Before that, they will learn where they sit on the tournament bracket. Boys basketball tournament draw is on Feb. 11. Overton said they want to play a team that also wants to play up tempo.
They have some teams they could see in the tournament and are excited about the possible matchups.
“We’re looking forward to teams we have on the radar. We’re feeling very confident that we can surprise somebody. We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Overton said.
In Division IV in the Southwest District North sectional, Ansonia is currently seeded 17th.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]