Kachmarik scores 24 as Eagles win OT thriller


TONTOGANY — Eastwood recovered from an early 17-point deficit to defeat Northern Buckeye Conference foe Otsego, 57-52, in overtime Friday.

It is the second straight game the Knights blew a double-digit lead. In Tuesday’s NBC game against Lake, the Knights led by 24 points late in the first half only to allow the Flyers to score 51 second half points and beat the Knights, 73-72, on Preston Snyder’s buzzer beater.

In Eastwood’s win, the culprit was Toledo St. Francis transfer Drew Kachmarik, a 6-foot-2 junior, who scored 24 points, including 20 in the second half in big part thanks to four three-point goals.

However, the first half was all Otsego.

Two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter, Otsego senior Owen Atkinson scored on an offensive putback and was fouled, completing the old-fashioned three-point play to put the Knights up, 25-8.

The Eagles finished the half on a 7-2 run to close to a 27-15 score at halftime, but the Eagles shot just 23% (5-for-22) from the field against the Knights’ zone defense and were out rebounded 21-8.

In the second half, Eastwood made adjustments to allow their shooters better sights at the basket, and Kachmarik, among others, took advantage.

Kachmarik banked in a 22-foot shot at the third quarter horn to bring the Eagles to within six, 41-35.

Driving to the basket, Eastwood senior Andrew Badenhop scored to tie the game at 42-42 with 4:45 remaining, but Otsego senior Jack Simpson hit 15-foot and 12-foot jumpers to put the Knights back in the lead by four.

Kachmarik hit a triple to give Eastwood their first lead of the game, 50-48, with seven seconds remaining.

An undaunted Simpson, however, hit an eight-foot jumper in the lane with 1.1 seconds to tie, and he was fouled, but failed to convert the free throw, sending the game into overtime.

It took two minutes of overtime for anyone to score, but Kachmarik scored after making a move in the paint, and junior Dayquan Oliver scored on a drive to the basket to give the Eagles a four-point lead they would not relinquish.

Eastwood’s second half comeback was by design. The end result was that Kachmarik can thank Badenhop and junior guard Andre Lewis for providing most of the assists leading to his points.

“Their zone they played was unbelievable,” Eastwood coach Jason Faykosh said. “They gave us a ton of fits in the first half. Really, we weren’t making shots.

“My assistant coach, coach (Brock) Dishop, he made huge adjustments on where we were putting guys.

“One of the main things we did was put Andrew Badenhop on the top of it — we wanted him on the top. He is a great passer, he plays a big spot for us, but really he plays like a guard.

“So moving out him out to the perimeter a little bit more and moving Drew Kachmarik to the corner, Drew hit some big shots for us. He obviously had a big game, but Andrew Badenhop changed the direction of this game with his seamless attack.”

Don’t think Kachmarik does not appreciate it, either, especially when it means he gets to be the high scorer for the first time at his new school.

“It wouldn’t be possible without all the players and coaches though,” Kachmarik said. “At halftime we had to make an adjustment, and they said, ‘Drew, just keep catching and shooting.’

“I just made my shots, but it wouldn’t be possible without the guards giving me the basketball to make the shots.

“We had trouble with their zone, so we decided we had to have shooters ready, make our shots and it’s a whole different game. We did that and it was a great win,” Kachmarik continued.

In the second half, Eastwood shot 58% (14-for-24) from the field, finishing 19-for-46 (41%). The Eagles made 12-of-18 free throws and had nine turnovers.

Badenhop had 13 points and six rebounds, Lewis had seven points, six rebounds and two steals, Oliver had five points, four rebounds and two steals, junior Kadyn Donnell scored five points, and senior Caleb Souder added three points.

The Knights still finished with a 38-27 advantage off the boards, but the Eagles had 19 to the Knights’ 17 in the second half.

“We didn’t rebound the ball well at all in the first half,” Faykosh said. “That’s something we stressed at halftime and we were much better in the second half. Obviously, being an undersized team that is something we have got to work on the rest of the year.”

Otsego shot 40% (21-for-53) from the floor, made 7-of-12 free throws, and had 13 turnovers. Simpson led the Knights with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds, senior Tanner Balusik scored 10 points, and Atkinson had seven points and six rebounds.

Otsego sophomore Devin Silva had five points and five rebounds, senior Cohen Feehan scored five points, senior Owen Weaver had three points and five rebounds, and junior Carter Lampe had two points and two steals.

However, the other secret for Eastwood was holding Weaver to just three points.

“We said at halftime, ‘You know, this needs to be a total team effort,’ and it was,” Faykosh said. “Everybody contributed.

“One thing we stressed was holding who we thought was their best player (Weaver), not letting him get driving lanes, and he ended up getting three points, and he did not have a basket inside the paint. So, team defense was unbelievable tonight.”

Kachmarik added, “At halftime, Weaver still had zero points and they were still beating us, but hey, we got the job done at the end of the day.”

Eastwood improves to 2-0 overall and in the conference, while Otsego falls to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the league, but the Knights could just as easily be 3-0 right now.

“I feel bad for them honestly because they are a good team and they compete hard. It’s just kind of the way it’s fallen two games in a row,” Faykosh said.

“They are going to win a lot of games in the league and throughout the rest of the year because that’s a very good basketball team.”

Otsego coach Steve Carroll credited Eastwood for their second half effort.

“Our kids played real hard in the first half,” Carroll said. “Eastwood made some good adjustments. They hit some tough shots, they played really hard and they found a way to get back in the game, and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities to put it away.

“We’ve got to learn how to put teams away. We let them hang around and, credit to them, they really fought hard and they found the right shots and they hit shots when it mattered and we didn’t take care of the basketball when we needed to.”

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