VERMILION — The Vermilion-Firelands boys basketball rivalry hit new heights Monday night.
Both teams played their hearts out, both crowds were vocal and to top it off, the game went into overtime where a single free throw made the difference as the Sailors pulled out a 57-56 win over the Falcons in non-conference action.
“That’s what high school basketball is all about and that’s what rivalries are all about,” Firelands coach Brett Bartlett said. “I’m proud of our effort, we wouldn’t go away and Vermilion just made one or two more plays than we did to win it.”
It looked like the Falcons (8-11) might pull out the victory in regulation, leading 37-30 to start the fourth quarter. But Vermilion (14-6) staged an 11-2 rally, capped by a steal and a huge dunk by Kyle Nader, who finished with 14 points.
“That may have been the play of the game,” said Sailors senior Cameron Kuhn, who led the Sailors with 19 points. “After he (Nader) made that play, it just lifted the whole team and carried us through the fourth quarter.”
The lead changed hands twice and the score was tied four times in the final 4:50 of regulation. A layin off an offensive rebound by the Falcons’ Casey Smith with 6.5 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 49 and forced the extra period.
Overtime started with something that was missing most of the game, a made 3-pointer.
After Vermilion missed its first 18 attempts from behind the arc, Nader drilled one to give the Sailors their biggest lead since a 20-16 advantage at halftime.
“It doesn’t matter that we missed so many threes,” Nader said. “We have to have the mentality that we can make them when it counts.”
The Vermilion took a 55-49 lead on a free throw from Nader and two from Zach Myracle, who had to come off the bench to shoot for Kuhn after a
head-to-head collision with a Falcon left him with a hole in his upper lip.
Smith, who led all scorers with 27 points, finally got the Falcons on the board with 1:35 remaining with a 3-pointer. A free throw by Dakota Klingshirn and three free throws by Smith after being fouled on a 3-pointer tied the score at 56 with 14.9 on the clock.
Kuhn missed most of the overtime getting his lip patched up, but he returned just in time to finish off the Falcons. Kuhn’s final big play came when he was fouled on a length-of-the-floor drive. He made one free throw to make the score 57-56.
Aaron Dawson stole the Firelands inbounds pass and was also fouled. He missed both shots, but Firelands couldn’t secure the rebound with less than two seconds remaining.
“We are just so exhausted,” Sailors coach Kurt Habermehl said after his team played its third game in four nights.
No time to rest either, since the Sailors host Columbia tonight.
“The kids are showing a lot of guts,” he said. “They’re exhausted and we’re asking them to play harder and they’re finding a way to get it done.
“What a great atmosphere tonight. Both sides were fired up and our kids may have been too geeked in the first half, but this is exactly what this rivalry is all about.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vermilion 57, Firelands 56 (OT)
FIRELANDS (56): James Willbond 1-0-2, Dakotah Klingshirn 0-3-3, Logan Sittinger 2-0-4, Cole Sklarek 2-0-4, Casey Smith 9-7-27, Jonathan Sigsworth 2-1-5, Jordan Ruffner 4-3-11. Totals 20-14-56.
VERMILION (57): Ross Lewis 0-0-0, Forrest Boyd 6-1-13, Aaron Dawson 2-2-7, Kyle Nader 4-4-14, Zach Myracle 1-2-4, Cameron Kuhn 5-9-19. Totals 18-18-57.
Firelands 7 9 21 12 7 — 56
Vermilion 6 14 10 19 8 — 57
Three-point goals: Vermilion 3-21 (14 percent, Nader 2, Dawson), Firelands 2-10 (20 percent, Smith 2). Field goals: Vermilion 18-53 (34 percent), Firelands 20-44 (46 percent). Free throws: Vermilion 18-29 (62 percent), Firelands 14-21 (67 percent). Rebounds: Vermilion 33, Firelands 35. Turnovers: Vermilion 14, Firelands 20. Fouled out: Nader, Sklarek.
Junior varsity: Vermilion, 47-44