Sports Talk: Pioneer men thrive in 3OT triumph

Marietta College’s never-say-die attitude on the hardwood was inspiring.

That, and a good lesson for everyone, especially youngsters, learning the game of basketball.

In competition, you always play hard, and then you never ever give up if you’re down – no matter what the score is and how much time is remaining on the clock.

“The game was never over until that horn finally rang,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal after the Pioneers (19-7) defeated Wilmington College, 111-106, in triple overtime in an Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal at Ban Johnson Arena Thursday night. “It was nerve-racking the whole way.”

No question about that.

Wilmington (14-13) had Marietta beaten three times, but three times the Pioneers staved off elimination with big plays and clutch shooting.

With maybe a second or two left in regulation time and the Pioneers trailing 75-74, MC senior southpaw Scott Kimmey threw a Hail Mary pass the full length of the court which Garrett Stephenson somehow caught in the lane and was fouled by a Quaker player.

With no time remaining on the clock, Stephenson made the all-important first freebie to tie the score. His second one, though, was off the mark, and the game went into overtime.

During the first extra session, Marietta again trailed late, 83-80, but with four tics left, Jacob Owens, like he’s done all-season long, hit an NBA-type three to send it into a second OT.

Well, wouldn’t you know, MC fell behind in the second extra session, and was staring at defeat again with about a second remaining and the score 96-93 Wilmington.

This time, J.J. Martin, the OAC’s second leading scorer got the ball, and knocked down a game-tying, nothing but net triple.


During the third OT, after Tyler Hammond opened it up with a trey, the Pioneers never looked back – and the Quakers were done.

“It was just crazy,” said Hammond after the contest. “I’m still speechless about the whole thing.”

Hammond speechless? No way.

Actually, Hammond’s play and his Pioneer teammates’ performance spoke volumes.

They just never gave up.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441, or at