PIQUA — Mississinawa Valley and Riverside were evenly matched adversaries for 31 minutes and 59 seconds of sectional tournament basketball on Saturday.
But in the final second of the game, Riverside came out on top, sinking a fade-away shot as the final buzzer rang to defeat Mississinawa 41-39 and end the Blackhawks’ season.
“I knew it was going to be like that,” Mississinawa Valley coach Rodney Saintignon said. “I knew they matched up with us well. I knew it was going to be a great basketball game because their size, our size, everything matched up. It’s just unfortunate that we lost there at the end.”
With the game tied 39-39 with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter, Riverside played for the final shot and passed the ball around, eating up time before calling a timeout with 9.7 seconds remaining to set up a final play.
After the timeout, the Pirates got the ball to Dalton Bollinger, their leading scorer on the season, and he made a fade-away shot over multiple Blackhawk defenders to give Riverside the win.
“That was a great shot by Bollinger at the end,” Saintignon said. “During the timeout, we knew they were going to try to get it to him. He’s their go-to guy, and we doubled up on him, and he shot a nice fade-away shot, and it went in. It was a great shot, and I give him all the credit for that. I thought we defended it well, but it went in.”
Prior to Riverside’s game-winning shot, Mississinawa Valley actually led for much of the night. But neither Mississinawa Valley nor Riverside ever took full control as neither ever built a double-digit lead.
Mississinawa Valley had the advantage early in the night as the Blackhawks scored first on a Carson Stump 3-pointer and a Dane Blumenstock basket for a 5-0 lead.
More points from Blumenstock and Dalton Rinderle gave the Blackhawks their biggest lead of the game at 12-4 in the first quarter, and the period eventually ended with a Jacob Breymier basket making the score 14-9 in favor of the Blackhawks.
Riverside took its first lead of the game at 17-16 lead with 4:15 left in the second quarter, as MV was only able to muster two points from Blumenstock in the opening minutes of the period.
After a Blumenstock free throw tied the game at 17-17, the Pirates then went on a 5-0 run to regain the lead and held a 22-19 halftime advantage following another Blumenstock basket.
In the contest of evenly matched teams, the Blackhawks’ biggest problem probably was turnovers, Saintignon said.
“I think we had a little too many turnovers that we really didn’t need,” he said. “Unforced turnovers, I think we had a few of them, and they scored off of them.”
Following the second quarter in which Blumenstock scored all five of Mississinawa’s points, Cesar Delgado, Breymier, Cayden Cox, Dalton Rinderle and Stump joined him in scoring in the third period and helped the Blackhawks retake the lead, holding a 33-28 advantage entering the final eight minutes of the game.
Baskets from Devan Rinderle, Cox and Blumenstock helped stave off the Pirates for most of the fourth quarter, but the Blackhawks couldn’t hold them off long enough as Riverside tied the game at 39-39 with less than two minutes remaining.
That led to the chain of events in which Bollinger drained the game-winning shot to end the Blackhawks’ season with a loss in the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
“Them guys, they played their hearts out tonight,” Saintignon said. “They wanted it bad. We didn’t end up on the right end of the stick there.”
Blumenstock ended the night with a game-high 18 points. Also for the Blackhawks, Cox scored seven points, Dalton Rinderle scored four, Stump scored four, Breymier scored two, Delgado scored two, and Devan Rinderle scored two.
Landon Kelsey led Riverside with 13 points in the victory while Bollinger scored 12 points, Kolt Shough scored seven, Kurt Waters scored six, and Ross Stevens added three.
Not only did the loss end Mississinawa Valley’s season, it also ended the high school basketball careers of the Blackhawks’ eight seniors — Zach Armstrong, Blumenstock, Breymier, Alex Brooks, Tyler Connor, Delgado, Dakota Hines and Stump.
“I’m proud of every one of them seniors,” Saintignon said. “We have eight of them, and every one of them, they played their role this year. They knew their role. They did it well. Even the guys that didn’t play that much, at practice, if they weren’t there, we wouldn’t have won 10 ball games this year. They helped us out.”