Union Local Survives Bellaire in OT

MORRISTOWN — “March Madness” came to Union Local’s “Hangar” a few weeks early Tuesday night.

In a textbook display of tournament might, the Jets and Big Reds from Bellaire put on quite a show in their Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys’ Basketball Tournament Class 3A semifinal.

Records were set. Dreams were reached. Hopes were dashed.

Emotions ran the gamut.

In the end, Goliath staved off David’s mightiest challenge, rallying for a 72-69 overtime triumph.

“Credit to our kids for never panicking for a second,” Union Local head coach Zach Delman said. “That’s what a team with a lot of leadership and a lot of experience does — just stays calm.

“We kept making play after play after play and stayed within striking distance and never let them pull away.”

The Jets (19-2), the tournament’s top seed, will battle No. 2 seed Wheeling Central at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Ohio University Eastern. The Maroon Knights downed Fort Frye, 65-55, also Tuesday night.

On paper, the third match-up of the season between the two Buckeye 8 rivals looked like a mismatch. After all, the Jets had won the previous two meetings by a combined 43 points. But, as the old sports adage says, “It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season.”

“We had time to prepare,” Bellaire coach Ben Doyle said. “We’ve been together all year. We care about each other. When that happens, we’re willing to fight for each other and that was evident (Tuesday night).

“There’s no solace in a loss. You can see it in our locker room. They expected to win. They’re really upset with this one. This was a winnable moment. But, basketball is a funny game with all its bounces. So, we’ll just get back at it.”

Bellaire surged to a 66-62 lead early in overtime on buckets by Cole Runyan and Jacob Marthaler, two of the Big Reds’ many “unsung” heroes on the night.

Union Local’s Cal Kildow hit a pair of free throws with 2:47 left making the score 66-64. Then, with 2:30 showing on the clock, Ty Kildow, gave the Jets the lead, 67-66.

While the NBA’s 3-point contest is Saturday, the Big Reds (7-13) and Jets combined for 28 treys. UL’s 16 set a school mark, erasing the previous best of 14, reached twice. Bellaire’s 12 tied a school record achieved twice.

Chase Yoho, who finished with 20 points, made 1 of 2 from the free throw line with 1:47 left, leaving the game knotted at 67. From there, the Jets milked the clock until Ty Kildow found Cody Ray for a go-ahead layup with 40 ticks left.

Yoho’s attempt to tie the game at the other end was partially blocked by Luke Menges. Cal Kildow was fouled moments later and made both free throws with 22.9 left, making the score 71-67.

Yoho was fouled at the other end and made both free throws, but Ty Kildow was fouled with 9.8 left and made 1 of 2, giving the Big Reds one last chance to tie it. Bellaire’s shot was off, leaving the Jets to celebrate.

“We fought very hard all the way to the end,” Delman said.

Bellaire led 51-44 with 5:20 left in regulation, but UL went on a 9-2 run, capped by Derek Smith’s 3-pointer with 3:30 left that tied the game. He finished with four treys and 12 points.

During the next three minutes, there were six lead changes, culminating with UL going up three, 62-59, on Ty Kildow’s two free throws with 12.2 left.

Bellaire had one last chance, though, and sent the game to OT when Runyan was true from the left corner with two ticks left. He paced Bellaire with 22 points.

Marthaler and Mason Ramsay, who canned a buzzer-beater to end the first half, both finished with nine. Bellaire shot 60 percent from the field, including 9 of 12 from beyond the arc.

“Luck favors those who work hard,” Doyle said. “We really wanted to come out and make a statement to say we deserved to be here. We withstood it as long as we could.”

Cal Kildow finished with a game-high 24 points for UL, while Elijah Baker had 13 and Ty Kildow 12.

“Gosh, I don’t know if I can put my finger on one big play,” Delman said. “There were so many.”