Up 19-12 with a couple minutes gone by in the second quarter, Jackson Center was shooting well, thanks to Jace Mullenhour’s 14 first-half points. The Tigers were off and running in boys basketball and appeared to have the defending state champion Botkins Trojans on the ropes last Friday.
Furthermore, the Botkins’ Pleiman brothers — Jacob and Carter — had two fouls each a few minutes into the game, and the table was set for the Tigers to take a bite out of the Trojans two-game lead in the Shelby County Athletic League standings.
But not so fast. Botkins turned to its dynamite defense and its sure-fire, 3-point shooter to stage a rally and nip the Tigers, 44-39, in overtime.
You may recall the great Botkins fourth quarter comeback versus Richmond Heights in the 2021 Division IV state semifinal at UD. Too many months ago, you say? In the distant past?
Well, Trojans 5-9 guard Jameson Meyer brought it all back to life at the Habitat of the Cat on Friday night. Only this time, he didn’t settle for “two” clutch three pointers. Versus Jackson Center, he poured in an amazing total of “seven” that, collectively, spanned well over 250 feet in shooting length.
Meyer started the game by hoisting in five consecutive bombs from behind the arc and, for good measure, added a first half, 40-foot buzzer-beater. On another, he was fouled just after releasing the ball, which sailed right through the net, as did the free toss. He later sent the game into overtime on a 35-foot rainbow with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Proving he was human, Meyer did miss three in a row during one stretch of action.
Without Meyer, Botkins would have trailed 20 to 0 at halftime. His amazing 19 points in the first 16 minutes kept the Trojans within very close striking distance, down just one at the break. The Tigers tossed in six hoops in the first stanza and hit nearly 70 percent during the opening eight minutes. They were up, 14-12, “over Meyer” after a quarter.
Jackson Center did a splendid job defending the two Pleimans, limiting them to a combined 20 points below their per-game marks. Yet the uncanny Meyer seemed to retreat a step or two, or three, all evening long to get into position for his “lights out” shooting display.
Mullenhour was superb and finished with 21 for the Tigers. He and Carson Regula ignited a ten-point fourth for the home team, as each hit a long, three-point bulls-eye. Nolan Fark snapped off a triple in the overtime. His potential, game-winning, 17-foot jump shot with two seconds left in regulation sprayed off the iron.
Meyer, Jaydon Wendel and Jacob Pleiman combined to swish six free throws in the extra session for the visitors.
Botkins and Jackson Center engaged in a relatively “clean” contest. The two clubs combined for only 16 turnovers.
Friday’s thriller at the Tigers gym attracted nearly 2,400 concurrent listeners via ScoresBroadcast.com at a precise moment in the fourth quarter. WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, simulcasted.
Botkins advanced to 6-0 in the SCAL and 11-1 overall. The Tigers slipped to 4-3 in the league; they are 7-4 on the season. On Saturday, the Trojans topped Fort Recovery, 49-36, and Jackson Center thumped New Knoxville, 51-35.
Russia is now the only two-loss team in the SCAL boys race. The Raiders host Botkins on Jan. 18 and travel to Botkins on Feb. 11.
On Monday evening, the D-IV Trojans were again ranked number one in the second statewide Associated Press basketball poll and received 15 of 20 first place votes.