The Falcons needed to beat Brookside to clinch the outright Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championship.
They did, 48-46, but had to rally from 13 points down at halftime. In fact, the Falcons never led until senior Joseph Hyster took matters into his own hands as the clock wound down with the score knotted at 46.
“Our plan was to give it to Nick Bauer up top,” Hyster said. “We were trying to run a back cut to Cole (Sklarek). That didn’t work. (Brookside) played it right. Nick didn’t have anything and picked up the dribble and handed it off to me. I had an opening and just took it. I figured it would be the last shot and wanted it to be a good one.”
It split the nets, leaving Brookside just 3.1 seconds to respond. Alex Robinson, who nearly became the hero for the Cardinals earlier in the quarter, couldn’t connect from almost half-court as the buzzer sounded.
Firelands finished the regular season 14-8, 11-5 in the league. Brookside finished 7-15 overall and 6-10.
Robinson converted back-to-back 3-point plays to keep Brookside in front, the last one coming with less than two minutes to play to make the score 46-42.
But Hyster, who sat out huge chunks of the game in foul trouble, scored on three straight possessions — the last one on a drive right down the lane for the game-clincher. He finished with team-high 12 points.
“The second half, we played with much more urgency,” said first-year Firelands coach Brett Bartlett. “The first half, we were kind of going through the motions. We weren’t real aggressive on defense.”
Brookside was able to control things inside with its pair of 6-foot-5 posts. Senior Nathan Keith had eight points and five rebounds the first half, while junior Kelvin Jones scored seven points and had three rebounds.
The two combined for just eight points and five rebounds after halftime.
“At halftime, we talked about playing a great half of basketball,” Brookside coach Brent Schremp said. “We did a lot of good things. Defensively, we were rotating and getting into gaps and being in the spots we needed to be. Second half, we had some early turnovers and early misses and (Firelands) took advantage of it.”
Brookside turned it over just four times the first half in building a 28-15 lead, but the Cardinals committed five in the third quarter and three crucial ones in the fourth as the Falcons whittled away at the deficit.
Firelands, meanwhile, did a much better job in the turnover department with just one in the second half after committing seven in the first.
“It was a great game in the fourth quarter by both teams,” Bartlett said. “We were just fortunate enough to have the last possession. Joe made a great play and finished it for us.”
Firelands 48, Brookside 46
BROOKSIDE (46): Cameron Drew 0-2-2, Tim Crnko 3-0-6, Nathan Keith 4-1-9, Alex Robinson 4-3-11, Kelvin Jones 6-2-14, Christian Gray 1-0-2, Mitto Agosto 1-0-2. Totals 19-8-46.
FIRELANDS (48): Nicholas Bauer 4-2-11, Logan Sittinger 3-1-7, Cole Sklarek 1-1-4, Casey Smith 2-3-8, Joseph Hyster 6-0-12, James Willbond 1-0-3, Brett Helton 1-0-3. Totals 18-7-48.
Brookside 11 17 8 10 — 46
Firelands 9 6 18 15 — 48
Three-point goals: Brookside 0-3, Firelands 5-15 (Bauer, Sklarek, Smith, Willbond, Helton); Field goals: Brookside 19-41
(46 percent), Firelands 18-45 (40 percent); Free throws: Brookside 8-13 (61.5 percent), Firelands 7-12 (58 percent); Rebounds: Brookside 25 (Jones 7), Firelands 24 (Smith 6); Turnovers: Brookside 12, Firelands 8; Total fouls: Brookside 8, Firelands 12.
Junior varsity: Firelands, 42-25.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.