Trojans lose heartbreaker in overtime
OTTUMWA — A series of peaks and subsequent valleys has defined the Fairfield boys’ basketball season to date, and Tuesday’s regular season finale at Ottumwa was no different.
The Trojans played some of their best basketball of the season vs. their rival to the west, yet their struggles with consistency continued and they lost a 70-67 overtime battle at Evans Middle School in Ottumwa.
“The loss is hard for these guys to take, but they’re going to learn from it, and they’re going to come back and play on Monday and give it everything they’ve got,” Fairfield head coach Tyler Miklo said following the game.
Fairfield fell behind by double digits early, trailing 19-14 after the first quarter and 36-26 at halftime. A 17-7 run in the third quarter knotted the game up at 43-all headed into the fourth, but the Trojans once again fell behind big before rallying in the closing minutes of regulation.
Trailing 51-43 with less than four minutes to go, the Trojans clawed back to cut the deficit to 56-54 with 35 ticks left. Carter Burns made three free throws on Ottumwa’s next two possessions to push the lead to 59-54, but Trojan freshman Jordan Reid responded by hitting a 3 with 4.6 seconds on the clock.
Following the clutch make, senior Darrin Dimmitt capped the Trojans’ miraculous comeback with a great play of his own, picking off an inbounds pass underneath Fairfield’s basket and lobbing up a last-second layup to force overtime.
“In stretches we played probably some of the best ball of the season. Jordan hit a huge shot and Darrin makes a great play to get the steal and layup,” Miklo said.
Another valley hit the Trojans in overtime, however, and after scoring the first point in the extra period they fell behind 67-60 with 1:40 remaining.
“We had a chance, and they went down and hit a 3 of their own, and it kind of sent us into a tailspin a little bit there,” Miklo said. “That’s the stuff we’ve got to respond to. They make a big play and we’ve got to come back. We can’t let them make two or three more big plays.”
The Trojans dusted themselves off for one final rally as senior Spencer Peterman and Dimmitt hit two free throws each to narrow the gap to three. Ottumwa pushed its lead back up to four points on a free throw, but a 3 by junior Joe Hietpas cut the deficit to 68-67 with 25 seconds on the clock. Ottumwa’s Austin Walker hit two big free throws, and Fairfield fell one buzzer-beating 3 short in the final moments.
“We’re just not good enough to play bad stretches and expect to beat a team like Ottumwa,” Miklo said. “That’s a battle-tested group from Ottumwa. They’ve earned their stripes. They’ve suffered through a tough season, but we tip our hats to them.
“I’ll give our guys all the credit in the world because they didn’t quit, but we can’t take possessions off or take quarters off. We weren’t happy with the way we played in the first half at all,” he added.
Peterman kept the Trojans afloat in the first half. The senior scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the two-period stretch. Peterman made 10 of 17 shots overall, and he also tallied nine rebounds and two steals.
Miklo shouldered some of the blame for not getting his senior forward more involved in the second half.
“In crunch time we really need to go to him more,” said Miklo. “It’s our fault as coaches [we didn’t today], but our guys need to recognize he’s the hot hand. We really need to get him touches every possession, and even if he doesn’t score we know we’re going to get something positive out of it.”
Dimmitt finished with 14 points to go with four assists, and junior Matt Carr scored 10 points. Reid scored a career-high nine points with two assists and two steals, and junior Vince Horras scored seven. Hietpas dished out two assists.
The Trojans (4-17), who kick off the postseason Monday at Keokuk (15-6), shot 26 of 57 from the field and were 5-for-13 from beyond the 3-point arc Tuesday.
Fairfield @ Ottumwa
FAIRFIELD — 14 12 17 16 8 — 67
OTTUMWA — 19 17 7 16 11 — 70
FAIRFIELD — Peterman 10 4-7 24, Dimmitt 6 1-2 14, Carr 4 0-1 10, Reid 4 0-0 9, Horras 1 5-6 7, Hietpas 1 0-0 3, Totals 26 10-16 67.
3-point goals — Carr 2, Dimmitt, Hietpas, Reid. Rebounds — Peterman 9, Horras 7, Carr 3, Weirup 3, Reid 3. Assists — Dimmitt 4, Carr 2, Peterman 2, Hietpas 2, Reid 2. Steals — Reid 2, Horras 2, Peterman 2. Blocks — Horras 2.