MOUNDSVILLE - John Marshall coach Bill Storm is certainly hoping the third time is the charm.
Not only will the Monarchs get their third crack at Wheeling Park this season, they get a third chance to win the OVAC Class AAAA Basketball Tournament.
John Marshall rallied to tie Steubenville in the fourth quarter and then controlled the overtime session on its way to a 70-64 victory against Big Red on Thursday in the tourney at the John Marshall Field House.
John Marshall’s Luke Martin (11) defends Steubenville’s Shaq Petteway (5) on Wednesday.
Photo by Josh Strope
''We've grown,'' Storm said. ''We started out with one returning player and four guys that we were wondering if they would ever come. And they've come. We are a pretty solid basketball team, and we've been in a lot of close games that have prepared us for this situation.
''The kids must be made out of some special material. (Luke) Lavenski stepped it up in the second half with 15, (Jeremy) Hays stepped it up with 15 in the second half after being irrelevant in the first half. "These guys are showing what they are made of.''
John Marshall trailed at halftime but a 19-7 third quarter gave the Monarchs the lead heading into the fourth.
However, turnovers on the Monarchs' first five possessions allowed Steubenville to take a 43-41 lead 1:27 into the quarter.
John Marshall came back to tie and even had the lead briefly before Big Red regained the advantage at 55-53 with 1:23 left to go on a jumper by Trey Jones.
The teams each traded a free throw and John Marshall went to tie the game, only to have Hays miss two shots - a block by T.J. DeChristopher on a drive to the basket and an open 3-pointer.
Anthony Pierro was fouled with 16.1 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one. DeMichael Johnson grabbed the rebound but landed out of bounds to give John Marshall one last shot.
''We went transition to try and penetrate if we could,'' Storm said. ''We only needed a two and if we had to kick out for a 3-pointer, we were going to take it. The main thing was attack the rim and see if we could fouled or a layup.''
Logan Martin took the inbounds pass and drove to the basket, before kicking out to an open Lavenski. Lavenski's shot rattled out but sophomore Justin Wade was there to tip it back in for the 56-56 tie with 2.3 ticks on the clock.
Jones' desperation heave was off the mark.
''We were up two and we went tight man and we didn't want to give up any 3s,'' Steubenville coach Mike Haney said. ''Make them get an inside shot and not lose the game on a last-second 3-pointer. They got a good shot and then the tip was just a crazy shot that went in.''
John Marshall scored the first five points of overtime and never looked back. In the process, a foul on Big Red's Dwight Macon sent the team's leading scorer to the bench with five fouls and 13 points.
Steubenville had chances to tie the game, but 3-point attempts by Jones missed.
From there, the Monarchs made good on 6 of 8 free throws to stay in front.
''I'm just really happy,'' Storm said. ''We've been preaching to learn how to win. It's been a young group that has come along throughout the season and maybe we have learned how to win.
''We lost a couple close ones this season and maybe we deserved this one. What a big tip-in Wade got at the buzzer. That took us into overtime, we got the lead and for the third year in a row, we are in the AAAA championship.''
Added Haney: ''It was a tough game, a hard-fought game both ways. I just think we made mistakes, missed a lot of foul shots at the end and threw some balls away earlier.''
Hays led all scorers with 22. Lavenski added 15, Wade had 14, and Martin finished with 12 for the Monarchs (11-7). Big Red (7-9) also saw double figures from Johnson (12) and Jones (10).
John Marshall will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ohio University Eastern against Wheeling Park in a rematch of last season's OVAC championship, won 54-42 by the Patriots. Wheeling Park also won the two meetings this season, 78-50 and 69-45.
''(Wheeling Park) beat us by 28 the last time so I'm sure they are pretty confident,'' Storm said. ''But this is what we've been playing for. We wrote down our goals at the beginning of the year and everybody's page said to be in the OVAC Championship again. We are there and have to see what happens.
''The first two years were close games and we just couldn't shoot free throws. The main thing is that I don't think anybody thought we'd be playing in this game. Everything has been falling into place.''