Oran boys basketball seals close victory at free-throw line, ends half-century title game drought
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Forty-eight years ago, the Oran boys basketball team had a chance at a state title, only to have a controversial game-altering call haunt the program. Now the Eagles will have a shot at redemption.
Despite serious foul trouble and an early deficit, the Eagles stiffened up on defense late in the game, hit clutch free throws down the stretch and watched Sacred Heart self destruct at the line en route to a 64-59 victory in a MSHSAA Class 2 semifinal Thursday afternoon at the Hearnes Center.
Drew Reischman, who was limited to just 10 minutes in the game due to early foul issues, hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left in the game to lift Oran (21-8) to a 60-59 edge that stuck.
"[Drew] and the other guys, they don't pout about playing time, about shot attempts," Oran coach Joe Shoemaker said. "It's team-first, and they keep believing in themselves. They're very good kids.
"Luke Barnes, in the very last game against Hartville, had a moment like that. They're prepared to play when it's their time, and things seem to be working out. It's bouncing our way right now."
Meanwhile, the charity stripe wasn't so charitable to Sacred Heart (25-5), which finished the day 9 of 17 from the free-throw line, including just 3 of 10 in the final quarter and four misses in the final 33 seconds of the game.
The Eagles made the Gremlins pay.
"I give them a lot of credit," Sacred Heart coach Steve Goodwin said. "There's a reason they knocked off the state champs. But I'll take my team shooting free throws to end the game any time. Any coach would. It just didn't fall for us today, but I can't fault our effort. I mean, I thought our kids played extremely hard against a very good team."
Oran had four starters in serious foul trouble for much of the game, with Jacob Shoemaker and Cole Priggel both fouling out, leaving the Eagles without two critical scorers for the final minute and a half.
"That's something where we just have faith in our teammates," coach Shoemaker said. "I gave the guys on our bench a lot of props right before districts. Sometimes they don't get playing time, but this group that we have, they don't pout about it. There's no pouting. It's all about team -- team first -- and they've really bought into that. And that's what got us here."
Jacob Shoemaker and Max Priggel each had 17 points for the Eagles, who also got 14 points and seven rebounds from Layne Johnson.
Oran was 22 of 47 (46.8 percent) from the floor, 8 of 19 (42.1 percent) from 3-point range and 12 of 18 (66.7 percent) from the free-throw line.
The Eagles trailed by as many as nine points in the first quarter and five points in the half, mostly because of defensive struggles. Sacred Heart sliced Oran to the tune of 9-of-10 shooting in the first quarter and was hitting 55.9 percent (19 of 34) of its shots through three quarters.
"One of the things (was) we were at a height disadvantage," coach Shoemaker said, "so we were trying to do some things to take away their height and we did that -- maybe over-coaching on my part -- and we allowed their guards to get around us a little bit.
"They're pretty quick guards, also, so that had something to do with it. But yeah, we weren't as focused as well as we should have been defensively to start the game."
But that changed in the final quarter when Oran held the Gremlins to just 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) shooting.
Sacred Heart guard Trenton Lyles led all scorers with 21 points, Micah Tanguay added 17 points for the Gremlins and Alden Harding scored 11.
Colby Young had nine points and seven fouls when he fouled out with 4 1/2 minutes to play. The absence of the 6-foot-6 junior center was a big one.
"Colby fouls out on a rebound. He goes up, and nobody else is around him," Goodwin said. "Changes the game. Nobody's around him."
Harding said the game's physicality definitely made it hard for the Gremlins to do what they wanted.
"They played the post really good, though," Harding said. "Whenever we'd threw it up, our post would grab it and turn, and there always be a guy out there to poke it out.
"It's hard to throw that in there, knowing there's a guy right behind him. ... Whenever he turned, there was always a guy digging, and they're not going to call that in a big game like this even if he does get a hit on the arm or something."
Tied at 7-all less than three minutes into the game, Sacred Heart went on a 13-3 run, the 9-0 tail end of which was capped by a three-point play by Micah Tanguay to put the Gremlins up 18-10. They carried a 21-12 lead after one quarter.
Sacred Heart maintained that gap until Jacob Shoemaker drained back-to-back 3-pointers in less than 30 seconds to pull the Eagles within three, 29-26, with 2:17 on the clock.
The Gremlins got to the free-throw line before Harding hit a jump shot with 30 seconds left, and Sacred Heart went into halftime with a 35-30 edge.
A Max Priggel 3 at 5:24 of the third quarter gave Oran its first lead, 38-37, in 15 minutes, 59 seconds.
Sacred Heart answered with a 6-0 swing, capped by a basket by Young, but Oran returned the favor with a 10-2 run, as the Eagles got out in transition to go up 48-45 at the 1:11 mark of the third.
Lyles drained a 3 for the Gremlins with 21 seconds remaining, and the two sides went into the final period of play locked at 48.
The fourth quarter saw two ties and three lead changes, but the most important one came with 26 seconds left, as Reischman's free throws put the Eagles up for good.
Max Priggel then went 4 of 4 from the line in the waning seconds to clinch the win and a berth in the state championship.
"I just had confidence in myself," Priggel said. "I was like, 'I've been there before,' you know? I've been there a lot of times, and I've missed it some, But I just had confidence. I was like, 'I've got to make these, and we go to the state championship.' That was just the one thing. I've got to make these."
He did, and the Eagles are on their way.
SACRED HEART (59) -- Trenton Lyles 21, Alden Harding 11, Micah Tanguay 17, Teagan Trammell 1, Colby Young 9. FG 23-47, FT 9-17, F 17. (3-pointers: Lyles 3-10, Harding 1-2. Fouled out: Young.)
ORAN (64) -- Max Priggel 17, Layne Johnson 14, Jacob Shoemaker 17, Cole Priggel 8, Todd Priggel 4, Drew Reischman 4. FG 22-47, FT 12-18, F 23. (3-pointers: Shoemaker 5-7, M. Priggel 2-8, Johnson 1-3. Fouled out: Shoemaker, C. Priggel.)