Smithton and Otterville danced closely through the night, but the final track proved too up-tempo for the Eagles.
Teams exchanged blows through the second half and struggled to find separation until overtime began with three straight Otterville turnovers. Five unanswered points set the tone for a 10-point Tigers run that buried the Eagles, 84-72 Friday at Otterville’s homecoming.
Drew Apsher led Smithton with 24 points, Nate Walsh scored 19 – with five overtime points – and Will Tripp added 11.
Jake Neal, who entered Friday averaging more than 30 points per game, scored a game-high 28 points. Taylor Zumsteg scored 18 points, Spencer Saltsgaver had 12 and Franklin Oswald produced 11.
With 11 seconds to play, Apsher tied the game at 70 with a free throw. Neal had the ball and the final shot of regulation, but the game remained tied.
Save for a slow start, Smithton head coach Rich Pond said both teams played an exceptional game.
“We talked about it coming over here, it is homecoming – big night for them — and they’re going to get off to a good start,” Pond said. “We’ve got to weather that and then fight back.”
Otterville led by five in the third quarter before Pond requested a timeout to relieve tension.
Smithton reclaimed the lead after Will Tripp bodied his way to the free-throw line, with 90 seconds left in the third, making two attempts. The team failed to push its margin beyond three points through regulation.
Spencer Saltsgaver hit a wide-open 3-pointer four minutes into the game, forcing a Smithton timeout with a 14-9 Otterville lead.
Before the quarter ended, Apsher hit a three over Neal, who stayed down. Neal rushed to the next possession with a drive and floating attempt. He scored two after a foul, and the Eagles led 25-22 entering the second quarter.
Smithton took a 32-29 lead after a 10-3 run punctuated by a pair of Eric Culp free throws. With Otterville struggling in the half court, head coach Scott Gemes called timeout.
Gemes said passing is a key takeaway from Friday’s close loss.
“We were trying to make too many long passes, and not stepping to the ball,” Gemes said. “Some of those things are going to be big opportunities to look at film and know when to throw those passes and when not to throw those. And, when Drew (Apsher) is off the floor, take advantage of it.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2