Pirate Road Rally Falls Just Short
By Sam Brauen Sunday, January 14, 2018 01:16:00 AM
(FORT JENNINGS) - The Bluffton boys basketball team went on a wild ride of emotions Saturday night in Fort Jennings. The host Musketeers scored the game’s first 16 points and built a huge lead. The Pirates clawed their way back into the game, getting within one point with four seconds left. However, the Pirates were not able to convert a couple of last second shots and Fort Jennings emerged victorious 44-42. Bluffton fell to 4-6 on the season while Jennings improved to 8-3.
After falling behind 16-0 to start the game, Kaleb Jefferson put Bluffton on the board with a 15’ jumper late in the first quarter. The Pirates trailed 18-6 after the first quarter but won the second quarter by a 12-10 margin to trail 27-18 at the halftime break. After starting the game in a 2-3 zone defense, Bluffton adjusted to man to man which limited the Musketeers outside shooting success. Fort Jennings had success on the offensive glass in the first half, collecting 4 rebounds and scoring 9 second chance points. Meanwhile, the Pirates were ice cold from the field, shooting just 5/18 inside the arc. Cole Fruchey drained a ‘3’ with ten seconds left in the half to cut the lead into single digits.
In the third quarter, Bluffton continued their push to take the lead as the defense trapped in the half court and allowed just 5 points in the quarter. On offense, the Pirates looked to Dakota Bricker and Jared Piercefield to beat their defender off the dribble and either score or set up others. Fruchey hit another ‘3’ off a Piercefield pass to kickstart a 9-0 BHS run. Bricker scored in the lane twice and Piercefield followed suit to cut the FJ lead to 29-27. After a Musketeer turnover, Bluffton had a chance to take their first lead of the game but were not able to convert free throws. Fort Jennings scored in the paint but Piercefield banked in a layup at the buzzer to make the score 32-29 heading into the fourth.
The cat and mouse contest continued in the fourth quarter with Fort Jennings keeping the lead just out of the Pirates’ reach. Jennings came out of the gate firing, nailing three pointers on their first two possessions of the quarter. Bluffton leading scorer Kaleb Jefferson, made just 1/10 in the first three quarters but heated up quickly in the fourth. The senior scored two buckets and Piercefield one as Bluffton scored six points in a row to get within 38-35 with 4:00 left.
Another Jefferson bucket got BHS to 40-37 with :41 seconds left. After two FJ free throws, Bricker found room inside for a score keeping the Pirates within three at 42-39 with :17 to go. After one FJ free throw, Mason Soper banked in a three pointer with four seconds left making the score 43-42. After a quick foul, the hosts made the second of two free throws for a two point lead. With no timeouts left, Soper lofted a long pass which found Piercefield at the Bluffton three point line. The sophomore took a dribble and attempted a contested layup which missed. Cole Fruchey grabbed the rebound and re-shot in one motion but the shot did not fall as the horn sounded.
The Pirates displayed great resiliency coming back from the large first half deficit, especially on the road.
Joel Piercefield - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Kaleb Jefferson - 8 points, 7 rebounds
Dakota Bricker - 8 points, 2 rebounds
Mason Soper - 8 points, one ‘3’
Cole Fruchey - 6 points, 6 rebounds, two 3’s
Mason Ault - 2 points, 4 rebounds
As a team, Bluffton shot 13/38 overall (34%) and 4/9 (44%) on three pointers. Fort Jennings connected on 14/39 shots overall (36%) and 5/19 (26%) on 3’s. The hosts held a sizable advantage at the free throw line making 11/16 attempts while Bluffton was 4/6. FJ collected 26 boards compared to 22 for Bluffton. The Pirates won the turnover battle, giving up the ball just 5 times compared to 10 for FJ.
Bluffton will be back in action Friday night hosting Spencerville. The Bearcats are 1-8 and coming off a 51-44 loss to Bath.