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FORT WAYNE—They played dead-even with the highest-scoring team in the state—15 lead changes, 10 ties, and zero backdowns.
They forced that team into its first overtime of what could become a historic season.
They even caused that go-go team to stall a while in the fourth quarter.
They did not, however, get a victory.
"They" means the 2010-11 Adams Central Flying Jets, who lost 86-79 in OT on Thursday evening to the Leo Lions in the second round of the ACAC Tourney at Memorial Coliseum.
"Adjust and play," were words used by AC head coach Aaron McClure to say what the Jets did last night: adjust to circumstances and do what you do best.
For AC's rising junior star Maverick Baumer, his best was a career-high 31 points, plus 11 rebounds. McClure agreed with a reporter's comment afterwards that if Number 15 had "attacked the rim harder," he could have scored 40. The coach added that Baumer "is a great player. He doesn't take dumb shots" and makes a lot of the ones he does take. "He's going to continue to come on strongly" this year and as a senior, said McClure.
Last night, Baumer hit seven of 13 twos, five of 10 threes, and two of three free throws.
None of his threes was bigger than the wing shot that tied the game at 71 with 26 seconds to go in regulation. At the other end, Ryan Bollier missed a 10-foot baseline shot and Baumer snatched the rebound, but only four-tenths of a second remained, so overtime resulted.
Leo (10-0) got its current point average, with 10 players scoring and three reaching double figures: Luke Pepple (20), Bollier (17), and Pat Moreau (12).
AC counterpunched with Baumer, a career-high 16 from sophomore guard Isaac Luginbill (including three of five in threes and five for five at the line), 10 from Dalton Combs (another 10th grader), and nine by junior Kyle Fawcett. Eight Jets lit the scoreboard and the 12 three-pointers made is perhaps a school record.
McClure said the Jets had too many turnovers (21) and allowed too many offensive rebounds by the Lions, although the overall difference was just one: 34 for Leo, 33 for AC.
He was pleased that AC's zone defense forced the Lions to take harder shots.
At 7-4, said Coach M, the team "is right on the cusp of how good we are going to be," with more challenges ahead: Bluffton on the road on January 21, Leo on the road on February 5, New Haven at Monroe on February 25, and possible meetings in the sectional with Bluffton and/or Bishop Luers.
Leo will meet Heritage for the boys title on Saturday. The Leo girls team dumped Adams Central 57-21 Thursday in the second game played at the Memorial Coliseum, The Garrett girls defeated Woodlan and will play the Leo girls for the title on Saturday.
Leo led 22-17 after one quarter, but the score was 30-30 at halftime thanks to a Combs trey at 56 seconds and a missed three by Moreau.
The Lion lead was just 54-52 after three periods, but grew to 61-52 at 5:30 of the fourth quarter. Baumer bottomed two FTs at 5:26, Moreau got a layup at 5:12, Baumer buried a three at 5:01, and Combs sank another triple at 4:40 to make it 63-60.
Leo's A.J. Busche missed a shot, grabbed the ball, and laid it up at 3:50, then Bollier stuck in two foul shots at 3:30 for a 67-60 lead.
Combs powered a layup at 3:20, but Bollier made two more at the stripe for a 69-62 score at 3:05.
Luginbill missed a three and Keaton Fiechter missed the front of a one-and-one chance at 2:52.
The Jets got the ball on a held ball at 2:07, but Andy Suciu made two more free tosses at 1:06 for a 71-62 advantage.
Baumer bombed from a corner to make it 71-65 at one minute, then a referee called Leo for a sideline turnover at 56 seconds. At 46.6 seconds, after a flurry of missed shots inside by AC as the ball was kept alive by Combs, Fawcett, and Baumer, the ball got knocked to Luginbill, who hurriedly launched a three and was fouled.
Luginbill, one of the best foul shooters AC has ever had, knifed all three shots, even though Leo called time out after the first two.
With the score at 71-68, the Lions were nailed with an over-and-back violation trying to handle AC's pressure at 40.2 seconds.
Baumer's final three went down at 26 seconds and overtime arrived.
In the extra session, Pepple's baseline 15-footer gave Leo a 73-71 lead at 3:44, but Baumer's last basket of the game, a layup, produced the last tie at 3:26.
Bollier connected from the arc at 3:02 to make it 76-73 and the Jets never caught up, but also never gave up.
Suciu stole an inbounds pass at half-court and streaked for a layup. Combs missed a three, Luginbill was called for charging, AC lost the ball on a travel by Nathan Busse, then Busche added two FTs at 1:32 for an 80-73 lead.
Fawcett missed two foul shots at 1:25, but Luginbill made a pair at 1:09.
It was at 1:05 that the final turning point came: under AC's goal, a Leo player grabbed the ball, then lost it. Combs went to his knees to get it and spied a teammate (likely Fawcett) wide-open under the basket and tried to get the ball to him, but it bounced off the player's legs and rolled out of bounds, giving possession back to Leo.
A layup by Busche made it 82-75, then Fawcett made a trey at 48 seconds for an 82-78 score.
The last five points were free throws: four by the Lions and one by the Jets in the closing 39 seconds.
Central 2G 3G FT TP
KamFiechter 1-2 0-0 0-0 2
KeatFiechter 1-1 0-1 0-1 2
Busse 1-3 1-7 2-4 7
Luginbill 1-1 3-5 5-5 16
Brooks 1-2 0-0 0-0 2
Sharp 0-0 0-0 0-0 0
Baumer 7-13 5-10 2-3 31
Combs 2-5 2-3 0-0 10
Snider 0-3 0-0 0-0 0
Fawcett 3-7 1-1 0-2 9
Totals 17-37 12-27 9-14 79
Leo 2G 3G FT TP
Corner 0-2 0-1 2-2 2
Suciu 3-7 0-1 2-3 8
Waters 1-1 2-2 0-0 8
Rink 2-3 0-0 0-0 4
Busche 2-2 0-0 2-4 6
Moreau 5-8 0-4 2-3 12
Bollier 2-9 2-4 7-9 17
Horn 2-3 1-3 0-0 7
Pepple 8-12 0-2 4-4 20
Sauder 1-3 0-0 0-0 2
Totals 26-50 5-17 19-25 86
Fouls: AC 22, Leo 17 (fouled out: Moreau)
Turnovers: AC 15, Leo 19
Rebounds: AC 33 (Baumer 11, Combs 7), Leo 34 (Suciu 7, Busche 7, Bollier 5)
Steals: AC 3, Leo 10 (Moreau 3)
Assists: AC 18 (Luginbill 6, Combs 6), Leo 15 (Suciu 4)
Score By Quarters
AC 17 13 22 19 8 79
Leo 22 8 24 17 15 86