The result was a game few people in the gym at Worthington Kilbourne High School will ever forget.
Buckeye Corner, led by 37 points from Bowling Green transfer Ronald Lewis, defeated Union Savings Bank 122-115 in quadruple overtime to advance to Thursday's title game. Buckeye Corner will meet Safe Auto in the 8 p.m. championship, while Union Savings Bank will play in the 6:30 p.m. consolation game.
MSL rules state that after three overtimes all games go to sudden death. But the players and coaches insisted on playing a fourth three-minute overtime – after playing 40 minutes of regulation with a running clock and the three previous three-minute overtimes.
"Let them play," the crowd of about 1,500 chanted in a scene right out of a "Bad News Bears" movie.
League officials agreed and the game carried on with one last three-minute overtime. When it was over, the crowd gave the players a standing ovation.
"This was the craziest game I've ever played in," Lewis said. "I've never gone to four overtimes. It was just a good experience, getting ready for the season.
"It was tiring after a while, but it is is playing basketball," Lewis said. "It was just another three minutes (with each overtime) of basketball. This is the way it is supposed to be. They're not supposed to give up. We have two great teams. We just came to play hard and they did, too.
J.J. Sullinger added 29 points for Buckeye Corner. Tony Stockman also had 28 points for Buckeye Corner.
"It's the longest game I've ever played," Foster said. "It was a hell of a game. Both teams came to compete. We just lost. We played hard, but I guess they deserved to win."
Lewis had 18 of his points in the first half as Buckeye Corner built a 51-41 halftime lead.
But Union Savings Bank rallied down the stretch. Bell hit a clutch three-pointer and Dials' layup with 1:02 left cut the lead to 88-87. Sullinger then made 1 of 2 free throws to put Buckeye Corner up 89-87 with 13.9 seconds left. But USB forced overtime as former Buckeye Scoonie Penn fed Dials for a layup on an inbounds play with 5.8 seconds left to tie it at 89-89. Lewis then drove the length of the floor to go for the winning shot, but missed a running four-footer right into Dials as the buzzer sounded.
In the first OT, Sullinger made a driving floater in the lane inside the final minute to put cut USB's lead to 97-95. Penn was then fouled with 44 seconds left, but he made just 1 of 2. That set the stage for Stockman, whose three-pointer with 33 seconds left tied the game at 98-98. Penn missed a running shot in the lane in the closing seconds and the game headed on to a second overtime.
Sullinger hit a trey to push BC ahead 101-98. But USB rallied with two free throws from Penn and, after a steal, two more by Mayes to go up 102-101. After Stockman missed a three for BC and Dials rebounded, Foster made a pair of free throws with 39.2 seconds left to push the USB lead to 104-101. Once again, though, Stockman came through. His trey with 32 seconds left knotted the game at 104-104. USB held for a final shot. Foster dumped the ball to Kevin Martin, who tried to dump it to Dials but it was knocked away before the buzzer.
The third overtime had one more frenetic finish. Penn's three from the top put USB up 109-108 with 48 seconds left. But Matt Marinchick answered with a 16-foot jumper to put BC back up 110-109 with 33 seconds left. After a Penn miss, Lewis was fouled. His two free throws gave BC a 112-109 lead with 17.9 seconds left. Mayes attempted a three for USB, but missed. The ball was batted out to Penn, who, under pressure with the clock winding down, threw a crosscourt pass to Foster. Foster drained a three-pointer from the left wing with 2.6 seconds left to tie the game at 112-112. After a timeout, Stockman attempted a halfcourt shot at the buzzer but it rimmed out. On to the fourth OT.
"I just caught it, took my time and knocked it down," Foster said of his big three.
And in the fourth overtime, Marinchick, of all people, was the hero for BC. He hit a three-pointer to open the period, then made two free throws for a 117-112 lead. Lewis then had a huge rebound off a USB miss. He made a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 119-112 with 1:01 left.
"I knew I had to get that rebound or we'd have to probably play another overtime," Lewis said.
Mayes hit a three with 48 seconds left, but it was too little too late as Stockman helped ice the game with a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left.
After all of that competition, USB called off the dogs, down seven in the final seconds. The teams hugged and the crowd roared its approval as the game (finally) came to a close.
"We all wanted to win," Lewis said. "We're all going back to Ohio State. We wanted to win as bad as they did. It shows a lot of competitiveness for our team this coming year. We're not going to stop fighting. We're going to keep pushing and pushing."
The always competitive Penn had to give Buckeye Corner credit.
"No, I'm not mad," he said. "I'm just glad that one of the Buckeye teams reached the finals. We had so many chances to win it."
Photos of last night's action:
Mayes is guarded by ex-Buckeye Tony Stockman
Ronald Lewis had a big game
J.J. Sullinger guards Je'Kel Foster
Terence Dials goes up against ex-teammate Matt Marinchick