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Spartans Last Second Heroics Continue at Walnut

Posted on: February 12, 2020

Jackson Holt scored 23, Dom Cantrella added 17 and Matthew Sheffer hit an unbelievable corner three as the Turpin Spartans rallied from 14 points down with under 3:30 remaining to shock the Walnut Hills Eagles in overtime Friday night.  Turpin (16-3 overall, 11-1 ECC) clinched at least a share of the ECC title as West Clermont fell to Kings on Friday night.  The Spartans will be outright champs with at least one victory in their final two home games next week.  Tyson Lee added 9 points, Owen Spencer pulled down 9 boards to go with his 6 points and Trey Shetler contributed 6 boards and 6 points to the winning effort.

Local TV reporting and social media were all over this game and it’s crazy ending.  #Unbelievable and #HeDidItAgain were certainly trending on the east-side as Cantrella pulled another rabbit from his hat with his second consecutive buzzer beater for the win.  But before that moment, this game was an ECC heavyweight fight with Turpin trailing most of the contest, taking only their second lead in overtime at 61-59.  It was Senior Night for the Eagles, the gym was packed and their student section filled to the rafters.  The first quarter was tight, a back-and-forth contest with Walnut holding a 12-11 leading after 8 minutes.  Balanced scoring for Turpin kept it close as the offense was efficient: Holt with 3, Spencer with 4, Shetler and Lee each with 2 points.  Things got away from Turpin at the start of the second.  Cantrella gave them the lead with a layup to start, but the Eagles went on an 11-0 run that put the Spartans in a hole, while the fouls started to mount against Turpin.  For the game, the Spartans would be whistled for a ridiculous 27 personal fouls, sending Walnut to the free throw line a whopping 40 times (converting on 26 of those).  Turpin trailed at halftime 29-21.

Cantrella and Lee fueled a rally for Turpin in the 3rd.  Cantrella had 5 points and Lee had 4 points, closing the gap to 35-34 with 8 minutes to play.  Things started to fall apart for the Spartans at the beginning of the fourth as Walnut went on a 16-3 run in the first 4:30 of the quarter.  Down 14 points, with only 3:30 to play, it looked as if Turpin was headed for their second league loss of the season.  But this team doesn’t know when to quit.  Jackson Holt picked up the team and put them on his back, going off for 13 (yes, 13) points in the final 3:30 of the game.  Cantrella added 5 in the rally, including an ‘and 1’ 3 point play to cut the lead 58-54 with under 1 minute to play.  After Walnut Hills missed both free throws in the double bonus, Holt launched a 30’ bomb to bring Turpin within 1 at 58-57.  On the next possession, foul shooting hurt the Eagles as they missed the from end of their double bonus shots, setting up a final possession for Turpin trailing by 2.  Senior Trey Shetler positioned himself on the baseline and Cantrella found him open there for the bucket just before the final buzzer.  Tie game, 59 all, with bonus basketball on a Friday night.

In the bonus frame, Holt had a highlight-worthy spin move in the lane (seriously, it was on Fox19) to give the Spartans a 61-59 lead.  Walnut fired right back, taking a 64-61 lead with under 20 seconds left.  The sports adage is that you never want to leave too much time on the clock for your opponent, but that’s exactly what the Eagles did.  Only time will tell if these Spartans are a team of destiny, but 20 seconds is an eternity to them.  Coach Slonim called time out and diagrammed the play.  Junior guard Sheffer checked into the game.  After the inbounds, Cantrella dribbled to his left looking for first for the hot-handed Holt.  The Eagles D anticipated this and overplayed to the left.  On the backside of the play Josh Bell and Trey Shetler set a double screen for Sheffer in the corner.  Cantrella fired the ball right, Sheffer took one dribble to his right to set himself and then drained the shot of his young career tying the game at 64.  Walnut tried in vain to hurry down the court and get off a shot, but Cantrella picked the pocket of the ball handler near mid-court, racing towards the Turpin basket with under 5 seconds to play.  For the second game in a row, Dom Cantrella launched the game winner at the buzzer (although this time it was shot from 70 feet closer to the basket).  Spartans win!

No time to rest for the Spartans as they travel to defending state champions Moeller on Saturday night before returning home for their final 2 games of the regular season next week.

Notable Performances:

Scoring: Holt-23, Cantrella-17, Lee-6, Shetler-6, Spencer-6, Sheffer-3, Bell-2

Rebounds: Spencer-9,  Shetler-6, Bell-5, Lee-5, Cantrella-2, Holt-2

Other: Spencer-2 blocks, Cantrella-4 assists, Marathe-2 assists, Cantrella-3 steals, Holt-2 steals