OAK HARBOR – Jerry Keifer’s young Evergreen Vikings have suffered through a number of growing pains this season with physicality on the glass being one of them.
The two rebounds the Vikings didn’t get, will haunt them during the off-season as Brant Kitchen’s putback of a missed free throw with 33 seconds left proved to be the game winning hoop as Otsego knocked Evergreen out of the Division III boys basketball sectional tournament at Oak Harbor on Wednesday, 37-36.
Early on the Evergreen defense wreaked havoc with the Knights, forcing six first quarter turnovers and not allowing a field goal, but could only counter with a pair of Bryce Hudik three-balls to lead 6-1.
Otsego went on a 10-0 run to start the second stanza, capped by two Parker Vollmar buckets to forge a five point lead, but a third Hudik triple and a basket from Nick Etue sliced that advantage to 14-11 at intermission.
Kitchen’s basket inside with 5:52 left in the third pushed the Knights back up eight, 21-13, before the Vikings rallied.
Chandler Lumbrezer scored eight third quarter points in helping Evergreen reduce the Otsego lead to 29-27 entering the fourth.
Will Varner’s score on a drive to the basket doubled the lead with 5:35 to go in the game but Teagen Pinkelman tripled from the top of the key to chop it to one with 4:53 left.
Vollmar and Etue traded three-pointers before Lumbrezer turned Peyton Pawlaczyk’s block and save into a transition triple to give the Vikings the lead at 36-34 with just under three minutes left.
Neither team could dent the scoreboard until Dakota Maher grabbed a loose ball rebound the Vikings couldn’t secure and was fouled at the 33 second mark.
Maher hit the first but the clanged the second off the right side of the rim where Kitchen scored off the board.
Varner was the only Knight to reach double figures with 10 points.
Evergreen, who ends the season with an 8-15 mark, were led by Hudik with 13 and Lumbrezer who scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
Joe Blystone can be reached at email@example.com