WILLARD - The game had been done for the better part of five minutes but Phil Loy was still yelling.
Only this time, someone actually heard him.
A sold out raucous crowd at Willard High School for the Division IV boys basketball district final between Buckeye Central and Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic made hearing anything but cheers hard to come by.
PHOTO BY AARON KORTE
Buckeye Central’s Cade Kaple works for a shot against?St. Mary’s Nick Bostater druing Friday’s district final in Willard.?Trailing the play is Lucas Will.
Buckeye Central’s Cole Stacklin gets past Sandusky?St.?Mary’s Trenton Zimmerman for a layup as Panther Denarius Harris looks on during Friday’s district final in Willard.
Both student sections going back and forth with a volley of barbs and puns.
Fan bases erupting every single time a bucket was scored.
In fact, coaches would have been better served giving the plays to the student sections as the teams may have actually heard them then.
But it didn't matter that Loy's team didn't hear him. When it came to crunch time, his team knew what to do.
Down 54-51 with 4:46 to go, a senior did what he's supposed to do in clutch situations. He took over.
BC's Cade Kaple did just that, scoring six of BC's next eight points to put the Bucks in front for good and snatch the district crown, 67-60, from the Panthers.
"I knew that someone had to step up. It was a team effort. Everyone played the best game that they could," Kaple said. "I just made things happen down the stretch."
Loy said he's seen it before.
"Cade can do that. He can take a game over," Loy said. "My fear was, he was starting to cramp. With about four minutes to go, he wanted me to call a timeout because he was starting to cramp. He was during the whole timeout over there stretching. He didn't hear a word I said. He's stretching with the trainer. I was concerned that if he started cramping and can't go, we lose; I don't know."
In a see-saw game that never saw the margin grow to more than six on either side until the final two minutes, momentum swung more often than a grandfather clock's pendulum.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game that came down to a two-minute stretch, three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter where they stretched it out on us and we made too many mistakes during that time," SMCC coach Lyle Falknor said.
SMCC (19-7) led by six, 45-39, with 1:34 to go in the third quarter before the Bucks (23-2) tied it at 45 on a Kaple score 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
"I think we were able to pick up our defensive intensity and we were able to get some stops and get a few turnovers and get some stuff in transition in the end," Loy said. "Early on, they were beating up on the boards a little bit. They made stuff tough inside. But once we got down (six) in the third quarter and that could have easily gotten away. These kids don't quit and they made plays down the stretch."
Fouls plagued both teams. In the first half, the Bucks lost Austin Wurm for most of the first half as he picked his second foul midway through the first quarter. He sat until the second half.
"I need to be out there to help my team. It was very frustrating," Wurm said.
Soon after Wurm went to the bench, Seth Ollis joined him with two fouls. Midway through the second quarter, Grant Loy had picked up his second foul and headed to bench, bringing Cole Stacklin to the floor.
"He just told me to be ready. We had a lot of people in foul trouble so I played with confidence and did my job," Stacklin said.
Stacklin did what he was told, scoring two of Buckeye Central's final four baskets of the half and assisting on another one to break a 24-all tie and give the Bucks a 32-27 halftime lead.
"I felt better assisting Cade than scoring myself," Stacklin said.
Loy said it was huge.
"When Austin Wurm is sitting the bench for more than a quarter and we maintained the lead, I think that's huge," Loy said. "It's a tribute to our bench. I think Grant Loy came in and did a great job and I thought Cole Stacklin, when Grant picked up fouls, Cole Stacklin brought some energy which is what he does and got us a couple of nice buckets as well."
SMCC had foul trouble of its own with Lucas Will sitting on the bench with three fouls for the final six minutes of the half and Melvin Jackson joining him later in the quarter after getting tagged with three in less than a minute.
Back at full strength to start the half, the Panthers used Will, Jackson and Denarius Harris to overcome the margin and take a six-point lead of its own, 45-39.
"We never could seem to get things under control with the lead," Falknor said. "They did a nice job of coming out and pressuring the ball and I felt we took some shots that weren't really great shots down the stretch and had a couple ball-handling errors and you can't do that against a good team."
Harris, one of the tallest players on the court at 6-4, was pestered by the shortest player on the court, Scott Heydinger. Harris had five turnovers, three off Heydinger steals.
"It was pretty crazy because I just figured he'd tear me up on the blocks, because he's 6-4, 6-5 and I'm only what, 5-6, not even," Heydinger said. "I'm not very good on the offensive level so I try to pick things up on the defensive level. That was my goal."
Coach Loy said it was a risk he was willing to take.
"We came up with the idea for him to guard Harris and in a way, we thought, is that stupid or not?" Loy said. "Scott Heydinger, with his defense, is so quick and has quick hands and could harass the crap out of him. We though he could cause a lot of havoc and I thought he did that."
It worked. Harris was held to six points.
Jackson finished with 23 points and Will finished with 10.
Kaple finished with 18 points, Wurm had 13 and Sam Robertson had 10 for the Bucks.
Despite the screaming, coach Loy couldn't wipe the smile off his face as his team advances to its first regional tournament since 2007.
"I knew we were a good enough team to do it but we had a heck of a road to get there," Loy said. "I knew this was going to be a dog fight to get here and St. Mary is a great team. Great athletes. I'm glad to see some of those kids graduate."
The Bucks play Haviland Wayne Trace at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Bowling Green State University's Stroh Center. Wayne Trace dispatched Ayersville on Friday night in its district final, 53-25. In the late game at BGSU, Convoy Crestview will face Ottawa Hills.
"I knew we'd be pretty decent but I never thought we'd get to this moment, but we did now and we're moving on to the Sweet 16 and I couldn't be happier," Kaple said.