TRAVERSE CITY — Free throws nearly cost the Traverse City Central boys basketball team in regulation on Wednesday.
In overtime, they saved the Trojans.
After going 2-for-11 from the foul line over four quarters — including three straight misses in the last 1:16 of the fourth quarter — the Trojans connected on 3 of 4 tries at the charity stripe in the extra session, edging Ogemaw Heights 49-45 at Central High School.
“It’s something that’s troubled us all season, with free throws,” said Central junior Mitch Wynkoop, who had the three clutch makes from the line in overtime. “It’s really hurt our team. We’ve been working on them in practice, but it didn’t look great tonight.”
Central (2-4, 2-1 Big North) had a few opportunities to sew up the win in the last quarter, but could not get foul shots to drop in crunch time. Ogemaw Heights (2-3, 1-3) couldn’t bury the potential game winner on its last possession in the final 11 seconds.
The Trojans had tied the game with 44 seconds to go on an offensive rebound and quick putback by Jackson Schrameyer, who had eight points and eight rebounds. Nate Schlusler led the Trojans offensively with 14 points. Wynkoop chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds. Max Knoblock contributed six steals.
Central never trailed in overtime, going ahead for good, 47-45 on a floater by Austin Podsaid with 1:09 remaining.
Central head coach Jeff Turner was happy to come away with the win, especially after his team had a tough first half where it only scored 12 points, trailing by five points at the break.
“I give our kids credit because we challenged them a little bit at halftime,” said Turner. “We were selfish at times. We were throwing the ball to a spot instead of playing basketball. We challenged them about being unselfish both offensively and defensively. Ogemaw Heights was the team making all the hustle plays. They were the ones diving on the ground. They were the kids getting their hands on the loose balls and we weren’t doing that.”
The Trojans responded with more points in the third quarter (17) than they had in the first 16 minutes to take a 32-29 lead entering the final period. Ogemaw stayed within striking distance thanks to guard Dillon Zettel, who led all scorers with 22 points. Zettel drilled two big threes and knocked down four free throws in the fourth quarter, with his last triple briefly giving the Falcons the lead with 59 seconds left. Zettel fouled out early in overtime, leaving Ogemaw without its potent scorer with the game on the line.
In the junior varsity game Central posted a 49-36 win as James Brumfield had 20 points. The TC Central freshman beat Ogemaw 47-14 behind 15 points from Nik Norton.