UNION CITY – Mississinawa Valley made three free throws in the final 2.2 seconds to beat Arcanum 54-51 in a Cross County Conference boys basketball game Friday night.
With the game knotted at 51-all and the clock winding down, Mississinawa’s Andrew Johns was able to draw a foul and sink what turned out to be the game-winning free throw. After intentionally missing the second free throw Johns got his own rebound, allowing him to make two more free throws and give the Blackhawks a 3-point win – their first victory in three weeks.
“We hustled,” Mississinawa Valley coach Tim Barga said. “We finally hustled. I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen it out of a couple guys but not the whole team. We had a couple guys that was upset after the game because they played poor, and I’m glad to see it. It’s about time somebody is upset when they play bad.”
While Barga was happy with his team’s effort, Arcanum coach Marcus Bixler was disappointed in his team and in particular the Trojans’ defense.
“Plain and simple we did not defend,” Bixler said. “We gave up way too many points in the paint, and that can’t happen. We have to be able to do things to keep people out of the paint. When we don’t defend we struggle, and that’s exactly what happened tonight. Very reminiscent of where we were the first few games of the year.”
To earn Friday’s victory Mississinawa Valley had to mount a fourth quarter comeback after leading most of the first half.
Arcanum, which trailed 15-13 through one quarter, took its first lead of the night with 5:12 remaining in the second quarter off a Maverick Hildebrand basket. The Trojan senior went on to finish the night with a game-high 15 points.
“It’s a kid that he does what is asked of him,” Bixler said. “He ran the floor hard, and he was rewarded for running the floor. And then set a ball screen and rolled extremely hard. Luckily our guard got him in a good position where it was catch, turn and score, and he came in and had a good night.”
Arcanum had the lead for just 40 seconds in the first half, though, as Johns quickly scored 5 points to help Mississinawa Valley go into halftime with a 29-27 lead.
In the third quarter Arcanum regained the lead as the Trojans outscored the Blackhawks 13-5 in the period. It took Mississinawa Valley almost four-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter to score any points.
“I’m sure if you looked at the shot chart the first four, five minutes they didn’t get the ball to the rim,” Bixler said. “They didn’t take shots in the paint. We were able to pressure, deny some things and then be able to keep their drivers in front of us a little bit. We didn’t do that in the first half at all, and we didn’t do it very well down the stretch either.”
Trailing 40-34 entering the fourth quarter, Mississinawa Valley started to make its comeback with reserves such as Kyle Guillozet leading the way. The Blackhawks started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run with Trenton Perkins draining a 3-pointer go put them back on top with 5:38 remaining in the game.
“The kids worked hard to get back,” Barga said. “Brought in a few of the sophomores and freshmen and they really helped us out getting some rest, but they were the ones that brought us back, got us ahead. I was real happy to see that right there. I know that I can use those young kids now.”
Over the course of the next five minutes the teams traded the lead a couple more times, setting up a dramatic finish with the game tied at 51-51 in the final minute.
With just 2.2 seconds remaining Johns drew a foul and made his first free throw attempt to give Mississinawa Valley the lead. He then missed the second attempt on purpose and made two more free throws after getting a rebound with 0.6 left for the game’s final points.
“We told him to miss the one on purpose,” Barga said of the second free throw. “It was 2.2 seconds, and their shooters weren’t going to get the rebound so it was going to take them more time doing that we thought.”
Perkins led Mississinawa Valley with 13 points Friday night. Also for the Blackhawks, DJ Howell scored 11 points, Ethan Bowman scored 9, Johns scored 8, Darin Miller scored 6, Guillozet scored 5, and Matt Slob scored 2.
Hildebrand led Arcanum with his 15 points. Also for the Trojans, Evan Atchley scored 12 points, Wade Meeks scored 9, Brandon Kinney scored 7, Wills Troutwine scored 5, and Carter Gray scored 3.
Mississinawa Valley improved to 4-8 overall and 2-5 in the CCC with Friday’s victory. The Blackhawks will play host to Randolph Southern on Saturday.
Arcanum fell to 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the CCC with the loss. The Trojans will play host to Fort Recovery on Saturday.
“Arcanum has gotten better, too,” Barga said. “And I’ve heard that from several people. They’re getting better all the time. I thought this was our best game we’ve played so it goes to show that Arcanum’s getting better also. I think they’ve got one of the better coaches in the league to tell you the truth. He does a heck of a job with those kids.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.