HENRIETTA — Oberlin senior Jason Moore knew that despite his team holding a double-digit lead for most of the game Friday night, Firelands would not just roll over.
So he was not surprised when he had to step to the free throw line with just 21 seconds remaining in the game and Oberlin clinging to a two-point advantage. With a hostile Falcon student section making things that much tougher on him, Moore calmly sank both shots and helped Oberlin to a 43-41 win.
“When I go to the line in that situation, it’s just me and the rim,” Moore said. “I have to stay focused to knock them down. Shots like those can take the other team’s momentum away, so I had to come through for my team.”
Those two free throws capped off a team-high 15-point night for Moore and improved the Phoenix to 2-1 in the Patriot Athletic Conference and 2-2 overall. Firelands, which outscored Oberlin 21-14 in the final eight minutes, fell to 1-2 in the league and 1-3 overall.
“Oberlin and Firelands has been a rivalry from before I was born, so we all know about the tradition of this game,” Moore said. “We knew what to expect and had to play through it. Coach Russell said that they would make a run at us, and we just had to have an answer for it. We have a lot of respect for them, and we have friends on that team. We knew that tonight wouldn’t be an easy one for us.”
After holding Firelands to just a Casey Smith bucket in the first quarter and owning a 21-12 lead by halftime, things were looking pretty good for the Phoenix. Despite suffering through its second straight cold-shooting performance, Oberlin seemed to have the game under control.
“Coach harps on defense all the time. We probably practice defense for two hours out of our two-hour practice,” Moore said. “The only thing that we can control is our effort, and our effort on defense is what won the ballgame for us.”
“In the first half we just had too many unforced turnovers and you can’t do that,” Firelands coach Brett Bartlett said. “It wasn’t against pressure. It was just being careless with the ball and playing unbalanced. That really hurt us.
“I’m proud of our effort, though. We came back and battled in the second half and did some good things. But against a team like Oberlin, you can’t just play two good quarters and expect to win. You have to come out and play four quarters and we have to find a way to get that done.”
Firelands senior Joe Hyster, who scored just two points in the first half, led the Falcons’ charge in the fourth quarter, tossing in 16 of his game-high 20 points.
With his team trailing 34-24 at the 6:36 mark of the fourth, Hyster scored seven straight points to make things interesting. And after a 3-pointer from sophomore James Wilbond with 3:19 left, sandwiched around Hyster field goals, Firelands pulled to within three with 1:20 to play.
Oberlin senior Nolan Isom ended a three-minute scoring drought with a pair of free throws, pushing the lead back to 41-36 inside the final minute. But once again, Hyster found a way to keep the Falcons alive.
Grabbing a rebound from two Oberlin defenders, Hyster scored and was fouled. After converting from the line, it was again a two-point game and set the stage for Moore’s final two game-icing foul shots.
“We knew that in a hostile environment like this, against a good team like this, that they would make a run,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “One of the things that I love about our ballclub is that we don’t panic. We never got frustrated. I was real proud of the way we withstood that run.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oberlin 43, Firelands 41
OBERLIN (43): Marcus Bailey 4-1-10, Jason Moore 5-5-15, Noland Isom 2-3-7, Charles Lewis 1-1-3, DaShaun Horton 2-3-7, Devante Hougland 0-1-1. Totals 14-14-43.
FIRELANDS (41): Joseph Hyster 8-4-20, Nicholas Bauer 0-2-2, James Wilbond 2-0-6, Casey Smith 3-2-8, Cole Sklarek 2-0-5. Totals 15-8-41.
Oberlin 10 11 8 14 — 43
Firelands 2 10 8 21 — 41
Three-point goals: Firelands 2-14 (Wilbond 2, Sklarek); Oberlin 1-5 (Bailey). Field goals: Firelands15-37 (46 percent); Oberlin14-51 (27 percent). Free throws: Firelands 8-10 (80 percent); Oberlin 14-20 (70 percent). Rebounds: Firelands 28; Oberlin 32. Turnovers: Firelands 20; Oberlin 14.
Junior varsity: Oberlin, 41-37.