Blair Oaks boys prevail in overtime

The Blair Oaks Falcons took their fair share of shots over the three-day Mike Kehoe Great 8 Classic.

But none were more important than Brandon Moore’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds of Thursday’s seventh-place game at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Trailing St. Joseph Lafayette 40-37 with 51 seconds left, the Falcons called a timeout to draw up a game-tying play.

It worked to perfection.

Moore got a pass coming around a low-post screen and quickly let fly a 3 that splashed in to tie the game and send it into overtime, where the Falcons held Lafayette scoreless to pull out a 50-40 win.

“I drew up the play in the timeout and that was a group of guys that went out there and executed what we had talked about in the timeout,” Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said. “It was guys stepping up to make a play.”

Moore, who scored a game-high 17 points, wasn’t having the best of games, hitting only 2-for-10 before the game-tying shot. But it didn’t matter when he let the shot fly.

“(Moore) caught the ball and got a quick release, and fortunately for us, he was able to knock that thing down and get the game to overtime where our guys really dug in defensively,” Fick said.

Blair Oaks (5-3) was able to tie the game at 20 before the half and took an early 22-20 lead in the third quarter.

Lafayette (6-5) regained the lead on a 3-pointer in the third quarter and held it with its methodical, slow-developing offense until the final minute.

But the Falcons didn’t get lulled to sleep by the Fightin’ Irish’s offense, which hit only 14-of-55 shots from the field. They went toe-to-toe with Lafayette and delivered the final blow in overtime.

“That says a lot about the character of our kids,” Fick said. “Going into overtime, they were really excited they were able to get the game there after trailing pretty much the whole second half.”

Austin Kempker got things started in overtime with a steal and a layup to give the Falcons a 42-40 lead. Blair Oaks iced the game from the free-throw line by hitting 8-of-10.

“Austin set the tone for overtime by shooting the gap and getting a layup in transition,” Fick said.

Blair Oaks held a 9-5 lead after one quarter, before Lafayette took advantage of the Falcons’ zone with a pair of back-to-back 3s in the second quarter to take a 17-13 lead.

The Fightin’ Irish took advantage of the Falcons’ zone again in the third with a pair of 3s in the corner that helped key a 9-1 run put Lafayette up 29-23.

“Because they run their stuff so well against man-to-man, we went to a zone and they had some guys step up and hit some shots,” Fick said. “That forced us to go back to man and I’m proud of how our kids responded.”

Lafayette reached 40 points for the first time in the tournament. The Fightin’ Irish lost 38-37 in the opening round to Mount Lebanon (Penn.), before falling 46-33 to Bixby (Okla.) in the semifinals.

Low-scoring offenses like Lafayette’s have given the Falcons fits this season. But Blair Oaks’ defense rarely faltered against it Thursday.

“We’ve played teams like that this year and it typically frustrates us,” Fick said. “But I thought we showed a little more patience.”

Blair Oaks may have had only one player in double figures, but it was a total team effort, including five big points from Kyle Distler. The junior scored on a layup and hit a big 3 before the end of the third quarter to cut Lafayette’s lead to 31-30.

Even though the Falcons were handed a couple of losses in the tournament, Fick believes the experience of playing in it will benefit his team.

“It gave us a taste of where we want our level of play to be night in and night out, regardless of who we’re playing,” Fick said. “Playing this type of competition this week forced us to play at a higher level. Hopefully, we can go back to practice and bottle that up.”

Blair Oaks returns to action Tuesday at Boonville before opening up Tri-County Conference action Friday at home against Warsaw.

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