Stow 63, Twinsburg 57 (3OT)
COPLEY: It took three overtime periods, but Stow escaped Saturday’s Division I sectional final at Copley High School with a hard-fought triple-overtime 63-57 victory over Twinsburg.
With the win, Stow (12-12) will face Hudson (19-4), a 35-33 winner over Highland, in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday at Copley.
“This game was about resilience, toughness and just having to keep fighting through,” Stow coach Dave Close said. “This is one of the best Twinsburg teams I’ve seen in a long time. They were very athletic and played tremendous defense.
“It was hard for us to run any offense against them, tough for us to get looks and tough for us to even maintain the basketball because they pressured so hard in passing lanes. It was a testament to our kids to weather those kinds of storms for that long of time and survive.”
Stow raced out to a 12-5 first-quarter lead, an offensive spurt punctuated by senior guard Tyler Deviti’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. But Twinsburg (17-6) got its offense rolling in the second quarter, outscoring Stow 18-8 to take a 23-20 lead at halftime.
Junior forward Matt Beech and junior guard Jacob Williams teamed to produce all of the Bulldogs’ 12 third-quarter points, giving Stow a 32-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Beech scored a game-high 26 points and Williams finished with 17.
Regulation ended in a 41-41 tie, as did the first overtime in which neither team made a basket in the four-minute period. In the second overtime, freshman guard Nathan Bower stepped up and scored five consecutive points to break the stalemate. The second overtime also ended in a tie, this time 49-49.
The Bulldogs took command of the game in the third overtime period, outscoring the Tigers 13-8. Beech took over by chipping in his final six points over the last 1:49 of the game.
“Matt’s been a workhorse for us all year,” Close said. “He’s a tough kid, a hard-nosed kid who wants the game in his hands.”
Hudson 35, Highland 33
In Saturday’s other sectional final, the Explorers held off the Hornets thanks to a late offensive surge over the final three minutes of play.
The Explorers started hot and took a 7-0 lead to start the game before the Hornets (14-10) used two 3-pointers amid an 8-0 run to catch up and take a slight lead. A defensive battle throughout, the halftime score was just 13-13.
“After we got off to the big lead, I thought we got sloppy,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “We’re a great shooting team, but tonight was one of those nights where we couldn’t make a shot.”
Highland sophomore guard Tanner Houska single-handedly sparked the Hornets, scoring all nine of his team’s points in the third quarter as Highland took a 22-18 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Hudson survived a slow start in the final quarter, using a 10-2 run before icing the game at the free-throw line.
“We have a veteran team and our kids have been in so many big games and so many adverse situations, they don’t panic,” Brink said. “So when it got to three minutes to go and we were down by six, it was like, ‘make the bucket, we’re fine.’
“In tournament basketball, it’s not always pretty. It’s not a beauty pageant, it’s about walking out with the ‘W’. We weren’t looking like Miss Ohio tonight, but we’re still playing.”
Houska finished with 13 points. Hudson senior forward Ben Gedeon also had 13 points and senior guard Zack Brandy added 11 points.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com.