ATHENS, Ohio — Unfortunaltly for the Eagles, it’s not over until it’s over.
The Eastern boys basketball team led by five points with a minute remaining in Monday night’s district semi-final at the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University. Portsmouth Notre Dame outscored the Eagles 8-to-2 over the final 60 seconds of play to take the 43-42 victory.
The Eagles (9-15) were bitten by the turnover bug early, which allowed Notre Dame (20-3) to jump out to a 12-to-10 advantage at the end of the first period. The Titans controlled the glass in the second stanza and expanded their lead to 20-16 at halftime.
NDHS scored the opening two points of the second half but the Green and White rallied with a 12-0 run to take the lead. Each team added four more points in the third period and the Eagles led 32-26 with eight minutes remaining.
Notre Dame cut the EHS lead to three points early in the fourth but the Eagles stretched it out to 40-35 with one minute remaining in the game. An old-fashioned three-point play by Adam Cooper cut the EHS lead to two points at the 35 second mark but Kirk Pullins sank a pair of free-throws to push their lead back to four just a second later.
A three pointer by Cooper at the 26 second mark put the Titans within one point. The Eagles turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound play and committed a foul on Kevin Lewis. The foul was charged to Max Carnahan and it was his fifth. Lewis sank both free throws and took the 43-42 victory.
“What we just did right there was amazing, playing the number one team in our bracket and we out played them for 31 minutes and about 30 seconds,” said second year Eagles coach Corey Britton. “What we did out there was flat out amazing and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of our kids, we just didn’t finish. There’s no being upset, we did everything we were supposed to do except win that basketball game.”
The Eagles had just three players score in the game, led by Pullins with 17. Carnahan marked 14 for EHS, while Chase Cook added 11 to round out the scoring column.
Pullins also led the Eagles on the glass with eight rebounds, followed by Carnahan with five. Carnahan led the Eagles in assists with six and steals with four.
“He’s a heck of a player that Carnahan,” Notre Dame coach Matt Mader said. “We knew that we were going to have our hands full with him. It’s his vision, he sees the floor and makes everybody around him better.”
As a team Eastern had 30 rebounds, nine assists and six steals. The Eagles committed 17 turnovers and 11 fouls. Carnahan was the lone Eagle to foul out. EHS shot 3-of-4 (75 percent) from the free throw line and 18-of-43 (41.9 percent) from the field, including 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. Carnahan accounted for two EHS triples, while Cook had the other.
“From what we’ve seen they (Eastern) did what they normally do,” said Mader. “They did some things that gave us problems with their physicality and their length. We didn’t shoot well outside or finish well in the paint but we were able to claw and grind it out.”
Notre Dame was led by Ogg with 14 points and Cooper with 10. J.P. Kayser marked nine points, while Lewis added eight and Michael Mader finished with two. Ogg and Lewis led the Titans with eight rebounds apiece.
As a team NDHS finished with 36 rebounds, 13 turnovers and 11 team fouls. The Titans shot 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) from the line and 18-of-58 (31 percent) from the field, including 2-of-17 (11. 8 percent) from three-point range.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors they are absolutely amazing,” said Britton. “When I took this job there wasn’t a whole lot of promise and those seniors have carried us for two straight years. It just absolutely brings tears to my eyes to see them go.”
This marks the final game for Eastern seniors Max Carnahan, Zakk Heaton, Kirk Pullins and Troy Gantt.
“At one point we were 3-12 this year. The seniors and upperclassmen decided they wanted a different season,” added Britton. “They wanted a different legacy and we will see 2013 for a long time on that sectional championship banner.”