Joey Walker, right, of Jonathan Alder sends a shot toward the basket over a Bishop Hartley defender Tuesday evening. Walker hit two clutch free throws with 5.2 seconds to play in double overtime. Those charity tosses gave Alder a 45-43 victory. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The Jonathan Alder boys basketball team is one that generally posts impressive numbers when it comes to free throw shooting and launching shots from beyond the three-point arc.
The Pioneers, though, weren’t remotely close on those usual skills during Tuesday’s 45-43 double OT win over Columbus Bishop Hartley.
The Pioneers shot 40% (10-of-25) from the charity stripe, which is 37 percentage marks below their usual game average.
Alder was also an ice-cold one-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“If you told me those numbers after any game, I would have told you we lost by 20,” said head coach Zach Ross.
Yet, the Pioneers withstood those anemic shooting numbers and remained unbeaten on the season.
Ironically, a pair of Joey Walker free throws near the end of double OT decided the game.
“This was just a battle between two physical and gritty teams,” said Ross after the Pioneers edged the Hawks.
In doing so, the No. 5 (tied with Buckeye Valley in the Division II Associated Press state poll) Pioneers remained unbeaten at 5-0.
They also handed a setback to a Hartley program that has thwarted Alder efforts during past tournament or regular season games.
The first three quarters were played on basically an even kneel by a pair of teams that like to slow the tempo down and play a screen-and-pass half-court game.
Hartley held the upper hand by counts of 8-6 and 19-16 after the first two periods.
The Hawks went on top by a 21-16 count after a JA turnover early in the third quarter.
Jackson Izzard, who led all scorers with 30 points, rallied the Pioneers with a transition basket and the team’s lone trifecta.
JA’s only offering from beyond the arc gave it a 22-21 lead.
Hartley later regained a 26-24 edge.
A back-door cut by Izzard, however, tied the battle at 26 by the end of the third stanza.
Neither team managed much of a lead during the final quarter of regulation.
Gavin Heimlich, Alder’s 6-9 post player, swatted away a couple of shots that prevented Hartley buckets.
The Pioneers, who took a 39-33 spread on Izzard’s basket, had opportunities to increase their lead at the other end of the floor.
Errant free-throw shooting, including misses on the front ends of a trio of one-and-ones, denied Alder the crucial points it needed.
The Pioneers took a 41-36 spread late in the fourth set when Izzard assisted on a basket by Walker.
The Hawks, however, narrowed their gap to a pair of points (41-39) when D.J. Donnell swished a three-ball.
JA was in the double bonus when Hartley committed its next foul.
The Pioneers, though, could not cash in on a pair of free throw attempts.
Donnell drove the baseline at the other end of the floor for a bucket that tied the game at 41-all with four ticks on the timer.
The Pioneers (who will travel to Springfield Shawnee on Friday) couldn’t get off a shot before the buzzer to end regulation action.
Both teams swapped possessions during the first OT.
Alder missed two consecutive shots, but its defense prevented the Hawks from establishing good looks at the basket.
Grant Welsch of JA came up with a steal.
However, the Pioneers missed a long heave at the bucket as time expired.
The combatants remained deadlocked on 41 points for more than two minutes of the second, four-minute extra session.
Walker later found teammate Taber Headings open for a basket that gave JA a 43-41 edge.
Alder missed shots at the charity stripe and Donnell tied the game at 43-all with 1:03 on the clock.
Fans on both sides of the Alder gym were in teeth-grinding mode as the Pioneers began working down the timer.
That forced the Hawks to foul and halt the clock.
Walker, a 6-6 forward, found himself in possession of the ball with 5.2 seconds to play.
He made a move in the lane toward the basket, only to hear an official’s whistle.
The blast signaled a Hawk foul that sent Walker to the charity stripe.
He took a couple of deep breathes, bounced the ball a few times and let fly with the shot.
The swishing sound of the net gave JA a 44-43 lead.
The deep breathing-bouncing the ball routine was repeated as those in Pioneer and Hawk nation stifled their own oxygen.
Another tickle of the twine gave JA a 45-43 lead.
There, were, however, still a little more than five seconds to play – plenty of time for a Hawks shot.
Hartley quickly moved the ball toward its basket.
A last-second offering, however, failed to find the mark and JA walked off the court the victors.
Izzard 12-5-30, Walker 2-2-6, Headings 2-0-4, Welsch 0-3-3, Heimlich 1-0-2, Begin 0-0-0, Keith 0-0-0, Heiss 0-0-0. Totals 17-10-45.
Three-point goal: Izzard 1.
Donnell 7-2-17, Miller 5-0-12, Thomas 3-1-7, Bain 1-3-5, Blanchard 1-0-2, Thomas 0-0-0, Henson 0-0-0. Totals 17-6-43.
Three-point goals: Miller 2, Donnell 1.
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