SIDNEY — Fort Loramie and Fairlawn were looking for a Shelby County Athletic League victory after losing close league games last Friday.
The Redskins found a win thanks in part to clutch free-throw shooting in overtime.
The Jets rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half to force overtime but the Redskins hit 6-of-7 foul shots in the extra period to secure a 69-64 victory.
The Redskins (6-3, 4-2 SCAL) had lost two of their last three games before Friday’s win, including a double overtime defeat at Botkins last Friday.
The victory keeps the squad in the SCAL title race. Jackson Center and Anna both have one league loss after victories on Friday while Botkins has three.
“The league is as good as it’s ever been,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said. “There’s no nights off. There’s going to be grinders like this every night of the week. For us to win a big County game like this on the road is big. It doesn’t matter who you play or how it gets done. I told the kids that going into overtime; it just mattes how you get it done.”
Fairlawn (5-4, 2-3) has had success in nonconference games but has struggled to finish SCAL games. All three of the teams’ league losses have come by five points or less.
“Sometimes you’re judged by wins and losses in the newspaper or in the stats, but in the coaches’ heads, you’re judged by how you’re improving every day in practice, and we’re improving,” Fairlawn coach Brad Francis said. “We’ll just have to keep fighting.”
Fairlawn went on a 17-8 run over the last 5:30 of the fourth quarter to force overtime with a 57-57 tie.
Ashton Piper hit 2-of-3 foul shots to give the Jets a 59-57 lead with 3:27 left in overtime but Nate Meyer hit two free throws, then Grant Albers hit a basket and later split a pair of foul shots with about 2:15 left to give the Redskins a 62-59 lead.
Meyer hit a basket to give Fort Loramie a 65-61 lead with 1:26 left, but Ashton Piper got a 3 from the left wing to roll in with 1:11 left to cut the gap to one point.
Meyer made a pair of foul shots with 36 seconds left to put Fort Loramie ahead 67-64. The Jets called a timeout with seven seconds left and threw an inbounds pass to Kyle Peters, who had a 3 bounce off the backboard and roll in-and-out.
Nick Brandewie grabbed the rebound and was fouled and hit two foul shots to secure the win.
“I just told them in the locker room that I love their effort,” Francis said. “I don’t know what else to ask for. They’re giving me great effort. Sometimes you have close losses, and that’s what makes the Shelby County League so fun.”
Meyer led the Redskins with 23 points and made 13-of-15 foul shot attempts. Caeleb Meyer scored 14 and Caleb Maurer scored nine.
“Nate is what we preach in our program,” Britton said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid and always guards the best offensive player. He won’t like my saying this, but we was under the weather and had a fever tonight and didn’t know if he was going to play. To show up and do this is great.”
The Redskins made 23-of-27 free-throw attempts.
“We learned a lesson last Friday,” Britton said. “Nothing against Botkins; they took it to us. But we were 5-of-12 from the free-throw line last Friday, including a couple of (misses) down the stretch where we had a chance to win it.
“We talked about that we need to learn a lesson from a loss if we were going to lose, and tonight we hit free throws, so that was a big lesson.”
Piper led Fairlawn with 28 points while Skyler Piper scored 17 and Isaac Ambos finished with eight.
The Jets made 17-of-26 free-throw attempts.
“We didn’t shoot the best and didn’t shoot foul shots the best, but sometimes you have that,” Francis said. “You have to fight through and persevere.”
Fort Loramie finished the second quarter on a 6-1 run to take a 30-21 lead at halftime. The Redskins pushed their lead to 38-25 with 4:25 left in the third on a basket by Meyer but Fairlawn started to rally before the end of the quarter.
The Jets scored the last six points of the third after two baskets by Skyler Piper and a basket by Dominic Davis to cut Fort Loramie’s lead to 43-37.
The Redskins pushed their lead back to nine points early in the fourth but Fairlawn went on an 8-0 run to pull within 49-48 with 3:14 left.
The teams traded points to a 53-52 score, then Nate Meyer hit a pair of free throws to put the Redskins ahead 55-52. Peters made his first basket of the game by hitting a 3-pointer with a minute left to tie it 55-55.
Meyer made a basket to put the Redskins ahead by two but Ambos scored on a drive with 15 seconds to tie it.
The Redskins missed a shot on their next possession and Fairlawn got the rebound and took a timeout. Their last-second chance hit the side of the backboard to send it to overtime.
Fairlawn led by six points late in the first quarter but Fort Loramie took control by halftime.
The teams played to a 7-7 tie but the Jets scored six-straight points on a put-back by Davis and a basket and pair of free throws by Ashton Piper to take a 13-7 lead left 1:13 left in the first.
Devin Ratermann hit a 3-pointer and Nolan Berning made a basket before the end of the first to bring Fort Loramie within 13-12, then the squad scored the first six points of the second quarter.
Nate Meyer made two free throws and a basket and Brandewie scored after a steal to cap off the 11-0 run and put Fort Loramie ahead 18-13.
Ashton Piper made a basket with 4:56 left in the second to bring Fairlawn within 21-18 but the Redskins finished with a run thanks to free-throw opportunities to pull out further by halftime. Nate Meyer hit a pair with 3:01 left, then Meyer hit two pairs of foul shots in the final two minutes to increase the lead to 30-21 at halftime.
Britton credited Maurer, Ty Ruhenkamp, Evan Hoelscher and Ratermann for playing well off the bench for the team, especially late in the first half when the squad had three starters on the bench due to foul trouble.
“We were forced to play those guys, and we didn’t miss a beat,” Britton said. “Without those guys’ contributions, we’re hurting turkeys. They played very well tonight.”
The squads will meet again in SCAL play on Feb. 17 in Fort Loramie.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.