Defensive play by Voss ices Falcons’ win against PIntos

Brett Voss of Blair Oaks and Cole George of California battle to gain control of the ball during the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game in Wardsville.

Brett Voss of Blair Oaks and Cole George of California battle to gain control of the ball during the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game in Wardsville. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

WARDSVILLE — In a game where points were unbelievably hard to come by, you had a feeling it was coming down to the wire.

It did.

The Blair Oaks Falcons and California Pintos fought tooth and nail until the game’s final possession, when Brett Voss of the Falcons blocked a game-winning 3-point attempt, securing a 46-44 win for Blair Oaks.

The Falcons looked to have things in control when Logan Gratz made a layup with 6:26 left in the game to put Blair Oaks ahead 40-32.

But six straight points by the Pintos, capped by two Chase Ramsdell free throws, cut the lead to two.

Up stepped Voss, who sandwiched a pair of 3s around a layup by California’s Jaden Barr, to put the Falcons ahead 46-40.

Ramsdell and Curtis Lehman made layups for the Pintos while the Falcons missed the front end of three one-and-one situations — the only three free throws Blair Oaks shot all game.

The last set up the game-winning attempt, but the 5-foot-7 Voss was the unlikely Falcon to pick up a blocked shot.

“If we make the front end of those three one-and-ones, it’s a different ball game and (the Pintos) don’t have a chance to win the game there at the end,” a relieved Ryan Fick said after the game. “This will be a great learning tool for us this late in the season.”

California coach Blair Scanlon wasn’t too pleased with what he saw as a missed foul on the final play.

“(The referee) swallowed his whistle, he got tight,” Scanlon said. “But it didn’t come to the last possession, there’s missed free throws, missed rebounds, defensive assignments that broke down. That’s part of the deal, it happens.”

It was a rugged game from the start, and the Pintos took a 15-11 lead after one quarter. It could have been much worse for the Falcons — who started a makeshift lineup due to playing seniors on Senior Night — if not for Logan Gratz, whose six points in the frame led all scorers.

“Logan stepped up,” Fick said. “He knocked down a couple 12-foot jump shots and that forced (Lehman) to be honest with him and Logan was able to put it on the floor once or twice and get to the basket.”

Lehman and teammate Damon Shaw combined to block several Blair Oaks shots in the paint during a second quarter where the teams combined for just 16 points. The Falcons had a 9-7 edge to cut the lead to 22-20 by halftime.

“Curtis has done that all year long, he’s got 60 or 70 blocks,” Scanlon said. “He’s long and that’s what he does best, block shots.”

But he wasn’t able to block perhaps the biggest shot of the quarter — a 3-pointer by Voss with :02 left that sent the Falcons into the locker room with some momentum.

It was the first of two straight buzzer-beaters for the Falcons, as an offensive rebound led to Ryan Wilbers nailing a foul-line jumper as time expired in the third. That was part of the Falcons’ 16-8 edge in the third quarter that put them ahead 36-30, and they would never trail again.

“Our guys kept playing until the buzzer,” Fick said of the buzzer-beaters. “I’m not sure who kept that ball alive at the end of the third quarter and knocked it out to Ryan, but Ryan had the presence of mind to catch and shoot quick because he knew the situation. There was a little luck, he banked it in, but you need some luck sometimes.

“And at the end of the half, we ran a set for Brett and ran it well, set good screens. He came off and the defender flew by him, he had the presence of mind to let the guy fly by, get his feet set and knock it down.”

Voss made 5-of-9 from 3-point range to lead all scorers with 15 points.

“He’s a good player,” Scanlon said. “We locked him down pretty well, but we let him get loose in the second half and that can’t happen. He hit shots, but we made him earn them.”

Gratz joined Voss in double figures with 10 points. Joey Bernskoetter led the Falcons with seven rebounds.

Lehman racked up a double-double for California. He was the only Pinto to score in double figures, dropping in 14, and he also snagged 10 rebounds. Barr and Ramsdell added nine points each.

“We defended pretty well and slowed the game down,” said Scanlon, whose team is now 13-10 overall and 4-3 in the Tri-County Conference. “We can play either way, we can speed up or slow it down. Tonight it was possession for possession and we made (Blair Oaks) work for every point.”

The Falcons, who are now 19-5 overall, have won 10 straight. They are 5-1 in the conference and can wrap up a share of the league title with a win Friday at School of the Osage.

In Tuesday’s JV game, Blair Oaks won 53-50. Mikel Drehle had 15 points for the Falcons (16-6) and Kory Franks had 13.

In the freshman game scheduled for two quarters, the teams needed overtime before Blair Oaks posted a 32-29 win. Owen Luebbering led the Falcons (15-5) with 10 points.

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