Salt Fork, Shiloh rally to regional title appearance
CHRISMAN — The pressure was on Salt Fork. The Storm responded.
The state’s seventh-ranked Class 1A boys’ basketball team went 32 minutes and 56 seconds between leads but held off a determined Chrisman squad 41-35 in overtime of a regional semifinal game at Roger Beals Court.
Until Max Stutsman and Ross Learnard combined to hit 6 of 6 overtime free throws — accounting for all of the scoring in the final four minutes — Salt Fork’s lone lead (4-2) lasted exactly 12 seconds.
Stutsman, who hit the tie-breaking free throws with 50.1 seconds left in OT, was concerned about the team’s constant deficit.
“I was worried, but I knew we had to win it for Alec (Dutton) and Clayton (Fauver), our two seniors,” Stutsman said. “Defensively, with the game on the line, we stepped up in the fourth quarter and forced bad shots or bad passes.”
Following a steal and conversion by Chrisman’s Ty Bolen with 5:16 left in regulation, the Storm trailed 35-27, the same margin it faced at halftime. The Cardinals were scoreless the final 9:15.
“Our defensive intensity was the key to us moving forward,” first-year Salt Fork coach Andrew Johnson said. “Offense was not the main attraction, but they have a lot of shooters and we did a great job rattling their shooters.”
Stutsman had game-high totals of 17 points and eight rebounds. Dutton and Learnard each had nine points. Learnard hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final 33.5 seconds.
“Free throws are very important down the stretch,” Johnson said. “It’s a way to take the lead and close out games.”
The Storm (25-4) faces another 20-win team in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. title game. Eleventh-ranked Shiloh is up next.
“Any team moving forward has a lot of confidence,” Johnson said.
Chrisman (16-11) was led by Chris Hoult with 11 points. Bolen and Chase Anderson each scored nine points and Anderson had six rebounds.
Shiloh 60, Schlarman 58. The Hilltoppers finished the first half on a 10-0 run but couldn’t finish off the state’s 11th-ranked 1A team.
Shiloh’s Cyrus Furgeson drained seven three-pointers, three coming in the final 4:36, as the Raiders rallied to win.
“It wasn’t pretty, but my dad used to tell me ‘an ugly win is better than a pretty loss,’ ” Shiloh coach Charlie Carver said. “There were a lot of things we didn’t do well, but the kids never gave up. That’s what good teams do. They don’t let a 10-point deficit beat them.”
The Raiders (22-8) trailed by 11 midway through the third period and by eight entering the fourth quarter.
With the score tied 52-52, Furgeson scored all of Shiloh’s final eight points, starting with a trey with 1:21 left.
Furgeson and Andrew Donithan, who had a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds), are sophomores and Carver said, “I don’t know if we would have won that game in November or December, but we can handle things better now.”
Austin Calhoun led Schlarman with 23 points. Teammate Chris Kuchefski had 11 points and nine rebounds while Schlarman freshman Gannon Hughes hit three three-pointers and totaled nine points.
“I don’t think we played tough enough to get it done,” Schlarman coach Gary Tidwell said. “Usually we can rely on our defense to get stops, but we didn’t do that.”
The Hilltoppers finish 20-11.