BATH — True to form, the Bath Haverling boys basketball fought for every point Tuesday in the eighth-seeded Rams’ 61-59 overtime win against No. 9 LeRoy in the opening round of the Section V, Class B2 tournament.
After trailing by no more than seven points throughout the game, but consistently more like five and three points, Bath just couldn’t get over the hump until Will Van Amburg knocked down a pair of free throws with 6.8 seconds left in regulation. The freebies gave Bath a 55-54 lead, but it was short-lived. Ethan Witkowski hit the second of two free throws to tie the game and reset the clock for overtime.
Once overtime started, Bath went up by four points quickly off buckets by Van Amburg and JV call-up Jake Taggert. With a lead established, the Rams held LeRoy to 1-for-8 shooting from the floor in the extra session for the victory, and a date with No. 1 Wellsville on Friday.
“This would have been devastating to lose this game. It’s good for the kids, good for the program to win a game like this,” said Bath coach Bryan Dyring. “We’re small and we don’t have huge numbers, but we don’t ever quit. We’re 9-10 playing with, sometimes, five and six kids. That’s a testament to these kids’ will and heart.”
LeRoy (7-12) tried to put Bath away several times in the game, but couldn’t find enough nails. Each time the Black Knights got out to a five or three-point lead, Bath (9-10) would tighten the score back up – but none more jaw-dropping than Van Amburg’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.
Trailing by four, Van Amburg hit a H-O-R-S-E-distance trey to bring the Rams within one point of a tie. That shot keyed Bath’s surge, and left LeRoy cold from the field.
That deep 3 (Van Amburg) hit really got us going, you could see our body language get better and Jake Taggert, who was on JV all year, he came up for sectionals and played almost the entire second half. This was his first varsity experience. That was huge,” Dyring said.
The Black Knights didn’t help themselves with 9-for-26 shooting from the foul line – including 5-for-13 in the fourth quarter and overtime. LeRoy shot 12-for-31 from the floor in the first two quarters, but managed 9-for-30 in the second half and overtime. Meanwhile, Bath was 14-for-35 in the second half and overtime, and 9-for-13 from the foul line in the game.
“The one thing we’ve done well all year is play defense, but in the first half we were all over defensivley,” Dyring said. “In the second half, we gave up (fewer) points than we did in the first two quarters. That’s what really helped us.”
Van Amburg finished with 19 points, including 14 in the second half and overtime, while point guard Connor Oksinski netted 12 points (eight in the second quarter when Bath struggled), Nick Tostanoski did most of his damage in the third quarter and finished with 10 points and Taggert chipped in seven points – all in the last 13 minutes of the game.
LeRoy was led by power forward Nick Egeling’s game-high 20 points, Zack Moore scored 13 and the Knights’ gritty center Kody Lamkin had nine points.