LIMA — Visiting Jackson Center had the most 3-pointers but Temple Christian had the biggest one.
Justin Kroehler hit a 30-foot shot as time expired to give the Pioneers a thrilling 53-51 overtime win over the Tigers Saturday night at Temple Christian.
“Coach drew up a great play that got me a good shot and I happened to hit it,” Kroehler said of his game winner. “They are a real good team but we fought back at the end and did it as a team.”
The Tigers man-to-man defense gave the Pioneers fits early while Jackson Center found success behind the 3-point line as it built a 10-point lead early in the third quarter.
The Tigers hit 3-of-5 treys in the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter to grow a 23-17 half-time lead to 33-23.
But Temple Christian (14-6) bounced back with a 6-0 run to end the period that got them back to within 33-29 entering the final period of play.
At that point, Jackson Center had hit six 3-pointers to none for the Pioneers and the Tigers’ Alex Meyer had held Kroehler to only six points.
Taylor Zweibel finally hit a trey for the Pioneers to open the final period and ultimately tied the game at 36-36. The game was also tied at 38 and 41 at which point Andrew Rhoad was forced to the bench for the Pioneers with his fourth foul.
Jackson Center (18-3) then grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds that resulted in consecutive stick-back baskets for a 45-41 lead.
Temple Christian sent the game to overtime on two free throws from Evan Sutton and a bucket off an offensive rebound by Rhoad with 40 seconds to play.
“We gave up critical offensive rebounds and left too many plays on the floor in regulation,” Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert said. “We missed bunnies (lay-ups) and that will come back to bite you. But give them credit they fought back.”
The Tigers got a 3-pointer from Meyer to open overtime before Temple Christian responded with five straight points to grab a 50-48 with 17 seconds left to play.
Trey Elchert hit the Tigers’ eighth three of the game to put them back up 51-50 with only 3.6 seconds to play.
The Pioneers inbounded the ball to Kroehler, who dribbled once and launched his three from the right side of the court that found nothing but net and set off a celebration by the Pioneers and their fans.
“Our first big hurdle was to come back from that 10-point deficit,” Temple Christian coach Bruce Bowman said. “We kept inching back, then Rhoad went to the bench but we fought back from that and made some free throws.”
Sophomore Gavin Wildermuth hit four 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 15 points for Jackson Center. Meyer ended the contest with 13 points with two treys.
Temple Christian got a game-high 16-point effort from Kroehler, who totaled 14 points in the second half and overtime. Rhoad ended with 13 and Sutton totaled 10 for the Pioneers.
“They have a great program that we have the highest respect for,” Bowman said. “It was thrilling victory for us; tonight we happened to get the ball last.”