By: Julia Swain
4.1 seconds on the clock. Deafening cheers echo through the gymnasium. One shot, one opportunity to turn a two-point deficit into a victory, and senior Jacob Drees finds himself with the ball in his hands.
He dribbles once, twice. Time is dwindling rapidly. His only option is a desperate heave from the foul line to send the game into overtime. He falls back as it slips from his hands, and the ball drops with a resounding thud on the hardwood floor halfway to the basket.
The energetic crowd deflates for one of the first times all night as the final buzzer sounds, handing Cedarville an 84-82 loss to Ashland, one of Cedarville’s closest competitors in the G-MAC conference.
The game started out far from how it finished, as the Yellow Jackets opened on a 12-4 run. This, of course, did not last, as the Eagles quickly found their groove.
“Even though we jumped on them early, you knew they weren’t going to just let us run away with it,” said head coach Pat Estepp.
The Eagles came storming back as the first half went along, and by the time the teams were entering the locker room at halftime, the Eagles were up 44-43.
The Yellow Jackets did not exactly light the world on fire coming out of the locker room for the second half and struggles with fundamentals eventually led to their defeat.
“You know, we’ve got to do a better job on the boards,” Estepp said. “We got to defend better. We got to make free throws. That’s two games in a row. And you’re not going to win tight games if you don’t make free throws.”
Despite the tough loss, Estepp showed some pride in how his team finished out.
“And I thought our guys battled,” Estepp said. “We hit some big shots to give ourselves a chance at the end. And we just got jammed up there and didn’t get a clean look.”
Struggles from key players such as junior Jayvon Maughmer (13 points, five rebounds), and an injury that briefly sidelined Drees were just some of the deciding factors for the Yellow Jackets’ loss.
Also, Eagles’ senior Brandon Haraway (30 points, one rebound), had an impressive performance which moved him to 13th on the all-time scoring list at Ashland University.
“Their best player was better than our best player tonight,” Estepp said.
The game was down to the wire almost from the beginning, and this led to the final few possessions being crucial in determining a winner.
“[The] game is right there. And that game, these games come down to those moments and we got to be better,” Estepp said.
The Yellow Jackets will look to bounce back from this disappointing loss when they travel to the University of Findlay on Saturday, February 18th with tip-off at 3 p.m.
Julia Swain is a freshman journalism student. She likes listening to Taylor Swift, watching sports and playing sand volleyball in her free time.