Huron’s Chris Davis took a last-ditch pass from Michael Hurst, who had been immediately double-teamed. That’s when Davis got a clean look for a desperation 3-pointer and nailed it.
The improbable shot tied last Thursday’s Division III district semifinal vs. Margaretta at 54-54, forcing a third overtime between the two longtime Sandusky Bay Conference foes.
That’s when myself and countless others in the crowd knew: We were witnessing a game that will be talked about for generations.
The Polar Bears went on to beat the Tigers, 84-82, in the game played at Norwalk High School. But it took a staggering six overtimes (56 game minutes) and 2 hours and 34 minutes to do it.
The game is unofficially tied for the third-most overtimes in a single game in Ohio boys basketball history. It was the longest game of any reported to the OHSAA record book over the past 34 years — and the longest tournament game of all-time in terms of overtimes played.
Davis’ 3-pointer, which by the way, he had attempted just one in Huron’s previous 22 games — that he missed — was also when I looked to my right. Mark Fogg, a 1972 Norwalk graduate, simply looked back my way and smiled, then laughed.
We both knew two things: An all-time game was unfolding before our eyes, and yours truly, a 1999 Norwalk graduate, was likely missing deadline for the Norwalk Reflector and Sandusky Register.
And we were both right.
“Somewhere around the fourth or fifth overtime, I told Dave (Mehling) this was an event, it was no longer a basketball game anymore,” said Fogg, who broadcast the game on the radio for WLEC with Mehling, who also has called a ton of games in Norwalk at both WLKR and WLEC.
“I had started calling it a saga or a trilogy, not a game,” Fogg said. “But through the help of people texting me and Steve Shoffner (news director) back at the station, we started to figure out it was one of the longest games ever played in Ohio.
“That’s when I started realizing — we are really at an event, and this is pretty cool,” he added.
While Fogg was putting the game into words in real time, and I was scrambling to figure out how I was to put it in words under intense time constraints — on the floor was Ryan Bowers, one of the three game officials.
Bowers, too, is a 1999 NHS graduate. But once he had time to digest what had happened, the longtime area official, along with Ty Newsome and Tom Priesman were all surprised how they held up so well physically.
“But mentally, it was taking its toll,” Bowers said. “As officials, we always say to be perfect in the last two minutes of a game. We had to try and be perfect for 26 minutes, which is crazy.”
Bowers noted the officials are never concerned with the outcome of a game, but he told both Huron coach Bobby James and Margaretta coach Steve Keller how impressed he was with both teams.
“The resolve, poise and character shown on the floor was admirable,” he said. “The grit and willingness to never give up and keep fighting was very much appreciated and should not go unrecognized.”
Bowers said the game being played in Norwalk wasn’t lost on him.
“I was surrounded by so many that I knew,” he said. “Old teachers and coaches, friends, people in the community. Plus, I have been on that court so many times that I was very comfortable — even though I was mentally drained.”
As for myself, I still recall the moment an injured Jon Diebler pulled up for a 3-pointer from the left wing to beat the third quarter buzzer in a Div. II district title game vs. Willard in 2006.
The game was played at Ashland University in front of a capacity crowd. The shot had brought Upper Sandusky within a basket (67-65) of the Crimson Flashes, and Ohio’s all-time points leader let out a roar and pumped his fist to the crowd.
It was a ‘buckle up’ for a wild finish type moment, and that’s what everyone got that night in a 101-98 final score for the Flashes — in 32 minutes. Diebler and Jimmy Langhurst, the area’s all-time points leader, had each scored 55 points for their team as Northwest District co-Players of the Year.
Last Thursday didn’t have that kind of star power or points scored, but it’s the first time I’ve felt that strongly about a game since.
What also stands out, besides the fact that I got in my car at 10:58 p.m. from a game that started shortly after 8 p.m. — was an ominous comment I made to a colleague.
In the first quarter, the Polar Bears actually got off to a 13-2 start less than six minutes in. But the Tigers got to within 13-9 after one, and nine seconds into the second, trailed by just a point.
“That was a big sequence, and keeps the door open for Huron when it looked like they may get blown out early,” I said aloud.
They kept the door open for another 48 minutes, which is just staggering. My favorite stat from the game, though, is the fact that Huron didn’t get its first lead until the 3:40 mark of the third quarter.
The two teams then either tied or changed the lead 32 times from that point forward. It was indeed a special night, and like many others, I commend both teams.
“I went back home and watched a great event,” Fogg said. “It was really cool afterwards because I don’t think anyone was for Huron was really mad or upset they lost. They realized they were in an event.
“It just had a whole different feeling at the end,” he added. “They both gave everything they had for almost two whole games. You start to realize it’s a special night after a while. Six overtimes? And there was almost a seventh. That just doesn’t happen. I think win or lose, that was neat for everyone there to be a part of.”
Most overtimes in OHSAA history
9 — Hannibal River vs. McConnelsville Morgan (Feb. 23, 1974)
9 — St. Clairsville vs. Martins Ferry (Jan. 5, 1963)
8 — Columbus Grove vs. Ottoville (Feb. 1984)
8 — Troy vs. Vandalia Butler (Jan. 20, 1984
6 — Pickerington vs. Dayton Carroll (Dec. 6, 1963)
6 — Huron vs. Margaretta (March 8, 2018)