(Photo by Lance Hanlin, Staff)
Six days after taking Bell City into overtime, the Hawks had another small-school powerhouse on the ropes Thursday night, losing to Oran in OT, 63-58.
"We're playing pretty good ball right now," said Kelly head coach Nick Lanpher. "We dug a hole early and I think that's what cost us the game."
It wasn't the most impressive win of the season, but Oran head coach Mitch Wood was happy to get a road victory over the inspired Hawks.
"A win is a win," said Wood. "We'll take it. (Kelly) played awful hard tonight."
With 4:31 left in regulation, Oran held a comfortable 45-34 lead. But Kelly got hot late, and the Eagles did nothing to help their own cause, missing 10 free throws down the stretch.
"You can't work on things like that," said Wood. "You either hit them or you don't. We usually hit them. Hopefully we will next week."
With 24 seconds left, Major Burger nailed a 3-pointer to shave Oran's lead down to 51-48. Brooks Edmond immediately fouled Ryne Wood, who missed both free throws.
Running out of time, the Hawks got the ball to Chris Romas, who put up a desperation 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left. He sank the shot to tie the score at 51-51 and was fouled by Patrick Friga in the process.
"It was kind of a desperation shot," said Lanpher. "We were running out of time. He's a good 3-point shooter. He's the one we wanted with the ball and he hit it."
Romas was unable to convert the 4-point play though, missing his free throw.
"He had a lot of pressure on him," said Lanpher. "Anytime you take a high school boy and put that kind of pressure on him, they have a tendency to miss them every now and then."
Friga grabbed the rebound after the missed free throw and heaved a full-court shot before the buzzer sounded. It bounced off the ceiling, sending the game into overtime.
In OT, Burger sank two free throws to give Kelly its first lead of the game at 53-51. From that point, the game turned into the Nathan Seyer show.
Oran's 6-foot-2 senior scored 11 of his team's 12 points in the bonus period, leading the Eagles to their 20th win of the season.
It seemed every shot he put up went in. Two came off putbacks, one was a runner through the lane and one was a point-blank layup.
Seyer was so hot, he even attempted a slam dunk. The dunk itself went horribly wrong, but the ball bounced straight up off the rim and fell in.
He finished with a game-high 25 points.
"He's a good player, he stepped it up. He did a real good job on that dunk didn't he?" joked Wood. "He kind of took over at the end, and that's what we've got to have."
In the early stages of the game, it looked like Oran was going to run Kelly out of its own gym. The Eagles forced numerous turnovers and led 15-4 at the end of the first quarter.
"We've had some good defensive efforts this year," said Wood. "We play good defense and good things are happening because of it. There at the end, we played pretty good defense. (Kelly) just set some good screens and we got mismatched a couple of times. And hell, they hit some big shots. When you hit shots like that, you're going to be in the ballgame."
Kelly's offense showed signs of life in the second period, shaving the lead down to eight points by halftime.
With 3:40 left in the third quarter, the Hawks cut the lead down to four. But Romas was called for a technical foul, taking away some of his team's momentum.
Wood sank both free throws and Joey Bickings scored on the ensuing possession to put Oran up 31-23.
Kelly made another run at Oran in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Eagles 20-10 to force overtime.
Behind Nathan Seyer, Matt Seyer and Friga each scored 10 points. Wood contributed nine. The Hawks were led by Romas' 19 points. Burger finished with 11 and Lance Scheffer contributed nine.
Oran (20-6) will face Oak Ridge in the first round of the Class 1, District 2 Tournament at Delta on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
"We're ecstatic about the (regular) season we had," said Wood. "We had a chance to win every game we've been in except two -- Charleston and Sikeston. The kids have worked hard and really have done a good job this year."
Kelly (10-13) will square off against St. Vincent in the Class 3, District 2 Tournament at Bloomfield on Saturday at 7 p.m.