By Colin Harris | Staff writer
Daylen Williams scored a team-high 23 points for Youngstown Christian during Tuesday night's Division IV Struthers District semifinal with Mogadore, but it was his last bucket that will cause questions for days to come.
With Youngstown Christian trailing by two points as time expired, Williams launched a buzzer-beating 3-point bucket to give his Eagles a 52-51 victory over Mogadore at Struthers Fieldhouse.
Williams' bucket was ruled a 3-pointer by the officials on the court, but his foot appeared to be on the line as he launched into the air for the game-winning bucket.
Mogadore coaches stormed onto the court following the shot as Youngstown Christian players celebrated, arguing that Williams' shot should have been ruled a 2-point bucket.
According to OHSAA regulations, however, the officials' decision is the final call and is not subject to protest or an overrule.
Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz said that the ending to the game was a difficult one to swallow, but his team did everything it could on Williams' shot.
"I thought on the final play, we had great defense and Jake (Cramer) did a great job on (Williams)," Swartz said. "He just managed to make a move and get a little separation before getting the shot off."
After an 8-2 start to the game by Youngstown Christian, Mogadore called its second timeout in just three minutes.
Swartz's second timeout was successful as the Wildcats settled down and adjusted to Youngstown Christian's athleticism and trapping defense.
Mogadore stormed back with a 15-5 run to end the first period and took a 17-13 lead into the second quarter. The Wildcats' Austin Mahoney knocked down a pair of 3-pointers a minute apart late in the first period to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Mahoney turned in a strong performance in the losing effort, leading Mogadore with 16 points. Teammate Hunter Van Camp also finished in double-figures, scoring 13 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds.
After losing its lead in the first quarter, Youngstown Christian trailed all the way up to Williams' deciding shot -- by as many as 12 points at one point in the third quarter. But momentum began to shift in the Eagles' direction towards the end of the third quarter when a 10-2 run cut the Wildcats' lead down to four points.
Williams scored six of those points as Youngstown Christian began to show signs of life.
Youngstown Christian continued to trail into the fourth quarter, but a bucket by forward Tymere Dubose with 1:13 left cut the Wildcats' lead to just 51-49.
Mogadore struggled on the inbounds pass under Youngstown Christian's trapping pressure and guard Jake Cramer was forced out of bounds at midcourt with 1:15 left.
Fate seemed to break Mogadore's way on the next possession when Williams was fouled driving to the hoop, but he proceeded to miss both foul shots to maintain the Wildcats' lead.
Attempting to move the ball up the court, however, Mogadore again turned the ball over -- this time on the scoretable side -- and gave the Eagles back the ball for Williams' fateful shot.
Mogadore turned the ball over 19 times on the evening and it was those turnovers, combined with numerous missed shots around the hoop, that Swartz said ultimately doomed the Wildcats' efforts.
"We really had our chances to ice this game," Swartz said. "But we made too many costly mistakes (in the fourth quarter) and we missed too many easy buckets."
Mogadore finishes its season at 19-5.
Youngstown Christian (14-8) advances to play Wellsville in the district championship game Friday night at Struthers Fieldhouse. Wellsville defeated Lowellville 71-58 in the second game of Tuesday night's district semifinal doubleheader.