Oaks win state title in 2OT

Published 11:11 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

COLUMBUS — Kyle Ondera had a horrible shooting game — at least until no one was guarding him and the game was hanging in the balance.

Ondera hit the go-ahead free throws and then clinched it with two more to give Oak Hill a thrilling 48-43 double-overtime win Saturday over Kalida, locking up a Division IV title in the Oaks’ first trip ever to the state tournament.

‘‘During the regional final game, we were up three with not much time left and I thought about that, how I’d dreamed about that moment when I was a little kid,’’ Ondera said. ‘‘Then I knocked ’em down.’’

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Just 1-of-11 from the field, he hit four straight free throws in his team’s 6-0 run to finish the game.

With Oak Hill (25-2) trailing 43-42 and 2:04 left in the second extra period, Ondera stepped to the line and drilled them both. After teammate Westen Hale hit two more foul shots with 19.1 seconds left to push the lead to 46-43, Ondera was fouled again with 7.4 seconds left.

Before shooting, he motioned to his school’s fans behind the backboard to calm down and not be a distraction. He also turned to an official and pointed out that a Kalida player had hurt his knee and had blood running down his shin.

Then he toed the line and hit nothing but net on both of them.

‘‘Everybody was tired, so I was trying to give the guys a rest,’’ said the junior point guard. ‘‘I knew their (bloodied) kid was a good 3-point shooter, so I pointed that out to the ref thinking that maybe I could get him out of the game. But it didn’t work.’’

Ondera finished with just six points, but had 10 rebounds an assist while handling the ball against Kalida’s furious defensive pressure. Ryan Borden and Hale each had 13 points to lead the way.

It was Borden who saved the day for the Oaks with clutch, tying 3-pointers with 22 seconds left in regulation and again with 31 seconds remaining in the first overtime.

‘‘He knew he hit the first one, but he didn’t see the second one because he was rolling on the floor in front of me,’’ said coach Norm Persin.

Jordan Basinger scored 19 points for Kalida (23-5).

The finish was far more exciting than most of the game, which pitted two defensive-minded small schools coached by legendary coaches. The sanctioning Ohio High School Athletic Association believed that there were more coaching victories between the coaches — Kalida’s Dick Kortokrax with a state-record 785 and Oak Hill’s Persin with 575 — than in any game in the 87 years of the tournament.

‘‘I knew we were going to win,’’ Persin said he told anyone who would listen to him. ‘‘I knew we could come back and win.’’

Oak Hill, No. 4 in the final regular-season Associated Press poll, trailed for most of the game. The Oaks had never won a district title until 2007, let alone made it to a state tournament.

Poised and patient Kalida — playing in what could be Kortokrax’s final game — had the lead and the ball most of the day, content to play keepaway.

The last multiple-overtime championship game was Worthington Christian’s 95-90 victory over Fort Recovery in the 1999 Division IV title game.

Kalida led 32-30 with just over 2 minutes left in regulation, opening the door for the Wildcats to display their patience once more.

They worked the ball around the perimeter with the seconds melting away.

With 48 seconds left, Matt Warnecke went to the line and hit the first before missing the second.

Oak Hill almost threw the ball away with 35 seconds to go but was able to call timeout. After inbounding, the Oaks reversed the ball to Borden for a 3 with 22 seconds left that deadlocked it.

Basinger drove in the final seconds but faced tight defense and his shot came up short with 2 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.

Just 10 seconds into the extra session, Schnipke — who had 24 in a 57-46 semifinal win over Cleveland Heights Lutheran East — poured in a 3 from the left corner.

With Oak Hill down by those same three points and 32 seconds left, Borden hit another tying 3 while falling down in front of the Oaks’ bench.

‘‘That, to me, was an unbelievable shot,’’ Kortokrax said.

Ryan Kleman’s 3 with 3 seconds left was far short, assuring the second OT.

The teams traded leads until Ondera spun in a layup while being fouled with 2:04 left. But the foul was ruled to have come before the shot. Nonetheless, Ondera hit both free throws for a 44-43 lead.

Kalida then turned the ball over with 1:27 left on an over-and-back call, even though it appeared the Oak Hill’s Jesse Slone had tipped the ball over the midcourt line.

‘‘To win this thing, you need a break — and that was probably our break,’’ Persin said.

There were several near steals and tense moments before Hale was fouled with 19.1 seconds left. He drilled both free throws for a 46-43 lead.

First Basinger and then Schnipke missed desperate 3s before Ondera rebounded, was fouled, and put the game out of reach.

‘‘It’s great knowing that everybody who comes through town will see that we won a state championship,’’ Ondera said of the signs that are bolted to the city limits markers in many burgs around the state. ‘‘When I get older, I can tell my kids that I won the state championship in ’09. And I can’t wait to get back home and celebrate.’’