Jay County senior Scott Schwieterman stood somberly with his teammates outside their Huntington North locker room Friday night as parents and friends consoled them.
Just a few minutes earlier, Schwieterman sank two clutch free throws to pull Jay County even with Homestead with 11.6 seconds remaining in the Class 4A Huntington North Sectional semifinal boys basketball game.
But 10 seconds later, Schwieterman stood in disbelief as he watched Homestead senior Nick Gamble bury a 3-pointer from the top of the key to hand the Patriots a heartbreaking 48-45 loss.
“My stomach honestly dropped when he hit that 3,” Schwieterman said.
The Gamble 3 swished through the net with 1.8 seconds left, and another two-tenths of a second ticked off before the Patriots called timeout to set up one final play. Keegan Comer threw the inbounds pass to near half court where Brock McFarland caught the ball, dribbled to his right and from near the sideline launched roughly a 35-foot shot on target that hit the backboard and caromed off the rim.
The turning point in the game came early in the third quarter when Schwieterman picked up his third foul. With him on the bench the offense unraveled. The Patriots committed six turnovers compared to only five field-goal attempts in the third period and they trailed by by four after three.
“It was tough not being able to help my teammates out on the court,” Schwieterman said.
Schwieterman returned to the court to start the fourth period and he scored the opening basket to cut the deficit to two. But with Homestead pounding the ball inside to 6-7 center Caleb Swanigan and through the penetration by Gamble, Schwieterman picked up his fourth foul with 5:38 on the clock. He sat back down on the bench and the Spartans extended their lead to nine.
“It just killed us getting Scott in foul trouble,” Jay County coach Craig Teagle said, “and they took advantage of that.”
Teagle inserted Schwieterman back in the game two minutes later, and with him scoring inside and Keegan Comer draining three fourth-quarter 3-pointers, the Patriots managed to pull within two at 45-43. Jay County then generated a turnover on an inbound pass to take possession with 27.5 seconds remaining in the game. Jay County patiently ran its offense before pounding the ball into Schwieterman who drew a foul and nearly made the basket.
Schwieterman drained both free throws for his 13th and 14th points, but Gamble answered with the clutch 3-pointer on the other end to finish off the Patriots.
The Patriots finished their season 20-3.