Riders' Comeback Falls Short Against Fort Recovery

St. Marys’ Jack Cisco (0) and Carson Fischbach tie up Fort Recovery’s Ryne Post during a non-league boys basketball season opener on Friday at Fort Recovery High School.
Sports Editor

Two veteran head coaches with multiple state championships to their resumes faced each other with their new respective teams in Friday’s boys basketball season opener.

Fort Recovery’s Jim Melton, an 18-year coach, concluded last season with Arcanum and prior to that was an interim head coach at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis while St. Marys went back to the well with hall of fame coach Dan Hegemier in his second stint with the school.

And Melton’s Indians hung on despite a furious comeback by the Roughriders with another close-game loss that has become all too common for St. Marys fans to witness in a 55-53 season-opening defeat.

The Indians (1-0) led for the first 16:25 of the game, but the Roughriders (0-1) stormed back and led or tied until the final 11.2 seconds of the game when a foul on St. Marys led to a pair of free throws for the Indians, which eventually settled the game on a missed 3-point try on the other end as time expired. 

With 26 seconds and counting left, a foul on Jadin Davis handed the junior his fifth foul and allowed Gavin Thobe to drain a pair of free throws to give Fort Recovery a 55-53 lead with 11.2 seconds left. 

The benefit of the Indians being fouled and scoring was that it gave the Roughriders one final shot to either tie or win the game. 

Heading into the team’s final possession, Hegemier said the plan was to run a double high screen which would eventually give the ball to Gavin Reineke — who provided a nice spark off the bench for St. Marys with all of his eight points coming in the second half — but the Roughriders pinned themselves in a corner along their bench and Carson Fischbach had to heave up a desperation 3-pointer that banged against the backboard and into the arms of Brain Bihn for the Indians’ win.

“We ran a play and they kind of panicked,” Hegemier said. “We were looking for a high screen. It was a double high screen and we wanted Gavin to be the last one and he had a look  — let it rip.”

St. Marys took its first lead of the game on a Jack Cisco 3-pointer with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter after trailing by as much as 31-18 with 3:19 left in the first half. The Roughriders began to make their perimeter shots as part of the 16-2 run in the next 7:06 of the game as the team shot 5-of-9 from the floor during that span while the defense tightened up to force seven turnovers on the Indians. 

“We started out really flat, Fort Recovery shot the ball really well in the first half,” Hegemier said. “It took a lot of energy to get back in the game and we needed to execute more in the half court at the end of the game and it just didn’t happen.”

St. Marys’ largest lead of the game was 48-45 after Davis’ tie-breaking triple with 4:43 left in the game and kept a three-point lead as late as 2:40 left in regulation, leading 50-47. However, the Indians ended the game shooting 6-for-7 at the free throw line and 9-of-11 overall in the final eight minutes to escape with the win. 

“We were only 4-for-9 at the free throw line and they were 13-for-16, there’s the ball game,” Hegemier added. 

Ethan Steger led the Roughriders with 25 points, but was quiet in the second half — especially in the fourth quarter with just two points. 

The Roughriders lost eight games by six points or fewer last season by a combined 21 points and lost seven close games the season prior while being outscored in the fourth quarter of games.