The Mercer Tigers boys’ basketball team sought out its first conference win of the season. In a wild game of twists and turns, the Tigers pulled out a win in a thriller.
The Tigers defeated Bayfield 72-68 in overtime to secure their first Indianhead conference win.
“A win’s a win I always say to everybody at Mercer,” coach Adam Miller said. “I never take them for granted because we are the smallest school and when we win at Mercer it’s unbelievable, it’s awesome.”
With two minutes left in the second half, the game was tied at 58-58. Both teams were in the bonus and the game would be decided by who could make their free throws.
Bayfield made a basket that put them up. Right away Kobe Hiller responded with a bucket of his own. The game was now tied at 60-60.
After a Bayfield timeout, Bayfield held the ball for at least 30 seconds before attacking the rim where they got fouled. They made both free throws and took a two-point lead.
Baylie Huybrecht tried to answer with a score, but he missed and Bayfield got the rebound and were fouled immediately.
Bayfield had a one and one free throw attempt, but they failed to make it. The Tigers had a chance.
“I had everything in my mind I thought for sure (Bayfield) was going to miss the first one and we had an opportunity,” Miller said.
Looking for room to get to the basket with little time remaining, Huybrecht got fouled. He made both of his free throws, tying the game at 62-62.
With just four seconds left, Bayfield tried for a long 3-pointer that hit the roof of the gym. The game went to overtime tied at 62 apiece.
It became a free throw shooting contest in overtime. The Tigers struck first, scoring two free throws off a Jacob Schmidt offensive rebound.
Hiller followed his two free throws with two of his own. The Tigers led 66-62.
Then Schmidt went coast-to-coast for a layup as the Tigers increased their lead. Bayfield needed an answer and they got one. On a second chance, they made a 3-pointer that cut the lead in half. The Tigers still led 68-65.
The game was finished off with free throws by Hiller and Huybrecht. Bayfield had looks at 3-pointers but could not make the big basket.
Hiller finished making 11 of 13 free throws and had 24 points.
And then a big rebound came at the end by one of the Tiger freshman.
“(Josh Klopatek) had a huge rebound at the end when we were up five and he got the ball to Kobe or Baylie (who) ended up getting on the line,” Miller said.
The Tigers won the game 72-68.
“I’m just proud of every single person,” Miller said.
In the first half, Hiller gave the Tigers their first five points. Then Schmidt made back-to-back baskets, one coming on a slip to the rim on an assist from Huybrecht. Schmidt finished with 26 points and made three 3-pointers.
“Jake had a great game,” Miller said.
Then Hiller stole the ball and made a jumper at the top of the key. But Bayfield showed their ability to make shots and led 17-12. Mercer took their first timeout.
Answering the bell, Jordan Ahlborn made his first basket of the game. Following that, Schmidt continued to stay aggressive making a basket on a cut to the rim. Huybrecht got the assist once again. Then Schmidt scored and got fouled making his free throw.
“We’ve been in a lot of tight games,” Miller said. “We’re missing a couple kids from last year that we climbed on their back. We’re in tight games this year which is fantastic. It’s something new.”
Bayfield still led 32-27. Trying to cut the deficit down before halftime, Ahlborn got an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and scored a bucket. Hiller chipped in two free throws, but Bayfield led by one at the break.
“(Jordan) had great defense, great rebounding (and) had his hands up,” Miller said.
Their next game came Monday, Dec. 16 at Solon Springs. Coverage of that will be in the Dec. 20 edition of The Times
Then they play tonight at home against South Shore. The tip off is set for approximately 7 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]