KETTERING — About 10 Anna players took advantage of their player passes and went down to Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Saturday and Sunday and watch teams that Anna coach Nate Barhorst said “can really ball up.”
The Rockets put on a few displays of their high-flying athleticism on Monday. But those displays didn’t match the number that Ottoville put on.
The Big Green went on an 18-3 run over the second and third quarter to pull ahead, and though Anna rallied late, it couldn’t do any more than trim the deficit in a 61-57 loss at the invitational tournament.
Anna (8-3) hit a basket to pull within 26-25 late in the second quarter but managed three points over the next seven minutes. Ottoville pushed its lead to 17 points late in the third quarter before Anna cut the gap.
“It goes back to not getting the uptempo play we’re used to, not working the basketball like we have been,” Barhorst said. “We got into that little lull and played a little selfish at times. In the fourth quarter, that completely changed, and we just talked to our kids about that.
“When we move the basketball and play uptempo, we’re hard to compete with. That’s what got us back in the game. But we were a little too stagnant.”
Isaiah Masteller scored eight of his team-high 16 points to help Anna cut down the deficit in the last three minutes. Bart Bixler hit a basket at the buzzer to trim the final deficit to four, which is as close as Anna came.
Masteller, who scored 10 points in a win over Fairlawn on Friday, is a varsity newcomer this year.
“We talked in one of our timeouts that we’ve got to find the hot hands, and he was definitely one of those guys,” Barhorst said. “He has been the last three or four games. He’s really come around for us. …He can not only hit from the outside but he can finish around the rim, and at the same time, he’s become a pretty good defender.”
The two teams are the latest of area small schools to compete in the tournament, which mostly features powerhouse Division I and II schools from around Ohio in addition to national prep powerhouses.
Other local teams like Russia, Fort Loramie, Minster and Versailles have also competed in the event in the last six years. Sidney also competed in Flyin’ to the Hoop in 2017 and 2018.
“We enjoyed the experience and we’re glad that we had the opportunity to do this,” Barhorst said. “You don’t get to do something like this very often, and I was glad to see (our kids) got us back in it and made something of it.”
Bixler finished with 15 points while Isaac Linger finished with nine points and had seven rebounds and five assists. Kamren Steward scored six points and led the team with eight rebounds.
The Big Green (12-3) scored the first four points but Anna battled back and tied it 10-10 after a layup from Bart Bixler midway through the first quarter. Bixler hit a shot off the glass with 2:52 left to give the Rockets a 14-12 lead, but Ottoville hit a late 3-pointer to take a 17-16 lead into the second.
Masteller hit a 3 from the right corner to spark a 7-0 run for the Rockets to start the third. Ottoville scored the next nine points, though, all on 3s.
The Rockets pulled within 29-25 with about 1:30 left but Ryan Suever hit a late basket to put the Big Green ahead by six points at halftime.
The run continued into the third quarter. Drew Fisher completed a three-point play to out Ottoville ahead 38-28 with 4:37 left, which forced Barhorst to take a timeout.
Joseph Miller hit a 3 from the left corner with 4:13 left, then Josh Thorbahn hit a shot 30 seconds later to increase the lead to 43-28 and force Barhorst to call another timeout.
“(Ottoville) gets into the passing lanes, and that disrupted a lot of the things we wanted to do,” Barhorst said. “We’ve got to find a better way of moving it, though. …We have to find a way for our wings to get open better. We changed that in the second half and did a little bit better.”
The Big Green pushed its lead to 47-30 late in the third. Masteller hit consecutive 3s to bring Anna within 58-50 with 1:42 left and scored on a drive to bring the squad within 58-53 with 26 seconds left.
“I give our kids all the credit in the world for fighting back and getting it within striking distance,” Barhorst said. “We’ve just got to be able to put four quarters together, and we weren’t able to do that like we normally do.”
Miller led Ottoville with 19 points while Thorbahn scored 15 and led the team with seven rebounds.
The Big Green shot 23 for 45 (51.1 percent) from the floor and outrebounded Anna 28-27. The Rockets shot 25 for 53 (47.2 percent).
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.