Toledo Christian’s Garshawn Paynther sets up a last-second 3-pointer against Old Fort, which turned out to be the game winner.
KANSAS, Ohio — Garshawn Paynther wasn’t ready for his final season to come to an end.
When he caught the ball off an inbounds play with less than two seconds left in a Division IV boys basketball district semifinal game, the Toledo Christian senior quickly told himself one thing.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Christian wins thriller
“I looked up and I was like, ‘We go home today,’ ” said Paynther, a guard. “I couldn’t let that happen. I had to lead my team. I thought, ‘It starts with me.’ ”
Then, Paynther shot a long 3-point attempt from the corner of the court.
“At first I thought, ‘it’s over and they’re going to block it,’ ” Paynther said. “But it felt good.”
The ball swished through the basket. Then, time expired. Paynther and his teammates swarmed each other, seconds after the Eagles rallied to a 62-60 win over Old Fort in a Northwest semifinal Tuesday at Lakota High School. Paynther’s 3-pointer helped the Eagles (17-8) erase a nine-point deficit with less than 6 minutes left in regulation.
“We had two hands in his face, he did a double clutch and he made a tough shot,” Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said. “I don’t know what else we could have possibly done.”
Paynther’s game-winning play almost didn’t happen, save for a heads-up decision by Mason Hecklinger, who directed the game’s final inbounds pass to Paynther.
“That play wasn’t supposed to go to Garshawn,” Toledo Christian coach David McWhinnie said. “It was going to Kyle [Kempton] but their best player was on him. I didn’t talk to the guy inbounding but he saw Hunter Perry on him and I don’t think he wanted to risk it. Garshawn’s a great option number two. He caught it and went up, and the kid was in his face.
“He was able to hang just long enough. He knocked it down.”
Toledo Christian (17-8) will face Ottawa Hills at 7 p.m. Friday in the district final at Lakota. In the early semifinal, Ottawa Hills raced to a 14-point lead after the first quarter, en route to a 55-15 win over Tiffin Calvert.
“Every game in the tournament’s got a different animal,” McWhinnie said. “We played three close games and we’d love to be able to play Ottawa Hills close. We’re going to need to match them physically and also them, as far as their basketball IQ. They are the smartest team we play, incredibly well-coached and kind of a machine right now.”
Leading 12-9 after the first quarter, Toledo Christian opened its lead to 18-13 despite shooting woes early in the second. Yet the Stockaders (18-6) cut the Eagles’ lead to 22-21 with 2:16 left in the half on Hunter Perry’s basket, and Perry (22 points) scored four of Old Fort’s final six points of the half to help the Stockaders take a 27-22 lead at halftime.
The Stockaders opened their lead to 35-27 early in the third but after Kyle Kempton (21 points) tied the game at 35, Hootie Cleveland (15 points) hit one of his five 3-pointers to give the lead back to Old Fort, which took a 42-38 lead into the fourth and pushed its lead to nine points at 49-40 with less than 6 minutes left in the fourth.
In the final 4 minutes, the Eagles shifted to their base defense, capitalized on transition and three 3-pointers from Hecklinger, who had been quiet most of the night. Toledo Christian took a 59-58 lead with 36 seconds left on Matthew Brumbaugh’s two free throws, and called a timeout after Hunter Perry’s two free throws with 12.6 seconds gave the lead back to Old Fort.
Fouled as he drove the lane with 1.8 seconds left, Paynther then took the inbounds pass from Hecklinger for the game-winner.
“I stepped up and made a big play,” Paynther said, grinning.
Tag(s): Toledo Christian