Entering the game on a six-game win streak, the Truckers opened up a double-digit lead on the 1-win Redskins — but needed a last-second steal and free throws to survive a 52-51 non-league win at Port Clinton High School.
“It’s a win and we will take it,” Norwalk coach Steve Gray said of his team’s seventh straight win. “They gave us a good game and played hard, but we made just one more play at the end — and that was enough for us to get the win. We didn’t give up or quit, and were resilient enough to get the win.”
Norwalk (10-7) had opened up a 14-6 lead, but the Redskins (1-14) outscored them in every quarter thereafter — eventually surging ahead 51-50 in the final minute.
After a Norwalk miss, the Redskins had the lead and possession of the ball under their own basket with 14.3 seconds to go.
All the Redskins needed to do was get the ball inbounded and make a few free throws down the stretch to secure their second win of the season – that’s when a veteran Norwalk senior struck with a key play.
After Port Clinton was forced to call a timeout just before getting called for a five-second violation, Norwalk’s Matt Neuberger stole the inbound pass and darted down the court.
He found Jacob Roth for a 3-point attempt, which was off the mark. But Garrett Chapin was there for the rebound, and was fouled on his subsequent shot attempt, sending the freshman to the free-throw line for two shots and just 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
Chapin calmly knocked down the first shot to tie the game at 51 — but missed the second free throw, and the teams appeared to be headed for overtime.
But one of the officials blew the whistle, as the Redskins were called for a lane violation, which gave Chapin a second chance at the free throw.
He made the Redskins pay by nailing the attempt for the 52-51 lead. Port Clinton got off a last-second, desperation heave that was well off the mark for the stunning Norwalk win.
“We were behind with just 14 seconds remaining and Matt makes a huge play on the defensive end and then Chapin made two huge free throws,” Gray said. “They both made big plays for the team when we needed it.
“This one is over, and we were fortunate to come out on top in a good game,” he added. “Now, we get to move on to play a big one at Shelby in another championship game.”
Chapin finished with an impressive 15 points and 16 rebounds to pace the Truckers in Saturday’s win. Haraway added 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. During the win streak Haraway has scored 136 points (19.4 ppg).
Also for Norwalk, Kyler Lacy had eight points and five rebounds, while Roth scored seven points and Eric Hull added four points and six rebounds.
For the game, Norwalk was 18-of-44 shooting and 12-of-16 at the free-throw line, and held a 35-25 edge in rebounds.
Tied for first place in the loss column in the SBC Lake division with Sandusky (11-6, 7-3), the Truckers (6-3 Lake) visit Shelby (10-6, 5-4) on Friday before hosting the Blue Streaks the following week on Feb. 16.
In Saturday’s junior varsity game, Norwalk (9-7) outscored the Redskins 17-8 in the fourth quarter of a 45-38 win. Garrett Obringer had 16 points for the JV Truckers, while Ryan Sowders added 10 points and eight rebounds, and Brandon Ehrenberg added nine points and six rebounds.