The moment when Tippecanoe must foul was near. The Red Devils trailed by two in overtime Friday night, and the likelihood of extracting the ball from Tecumseh point guard Dalton Davis was, well …
“It’s hard to get the ball out of his hands,” Tipp coach Marcus Bixler said. “He dribbles low to the ground and he’s extremely quick.”
As the clock ticked toward 30 seconds the 5-foot-10 Davis was 40 feet from the basket when he surprised the Red Devils. He saw an open path, and a second later he was spinning a layup off the backboard and getting fouled from behind.
Davis made the free throw for a five-point lead with 36 seconds left, and the Arrows had knocked off the Red Devils 53-48. Tipp’s final attempts to come back with 3-point shots were empty.
Roger Culbertson’s instructions were nothing but a wide-open layup and keep the ball with Davis.
“I was like, ‘Well, I have a layup right here, I might as well go ahead and shoot it,’ ” Davis said.
Davis scored a game-high 20 points, made a couple of key steals and played tight defense to help the Arrows avenge a home loss to the Red Devils. But controlling the ball in pressure moments and taking the last shot is right up there with his 3-point shooting prowess and knack for scoring from just about any angle when he attacks.
“I know my responsibilities and I accept it in stride,” he said. “I know that’s my best option for my team and I want my team to win.
“I think I’m a pretty good leader, and I know everyone else has my back. And I like that.”
Davis had an opportunity to end the game in regulation, but a Tipp player blocked a short jumper with two seconds left.
Tipp’s strategy to chase Tecumseh off the 3-point line held the Arrows to three 3-pointers, an unusually low total.
“Our goal every time we play them is to try to take the 3-point away,” Bixler said. “There can’t be anybody in southwestern Ohio shooting more 3s a game than they are.”
The Arrows in turn attacked. Josiah McFarland, a senior forward, scored 12 points and dunked twice on drives. Shawn Mosser, a senior center, scored 12 and turned and drove from the high post for the first points of overtime.
Tipp was led by Ben Stucke’s 15 points and the Red Devils made six 3-pointers.
“They did a better job of attacking the rim tonight than we did,” Bixler said. “We settled a lot for jump shots. I think that was a big difference.”
Tecumseh (12-3, 4-2) kept itself alive in the race for first in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail. A loss would have left the Arrows two games behind Tipp (11-2, 4-2) and Bellefontaine (4-1). The Arrows have games left with Bellefontaine and Shawnee (3-2).
“Our backs were against the wall tonight,” Culbertson said. “We control our own destiny now.”