Firebirds survive in quadruple OT, beat Mill Valley on road

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State junior guard Cooper Jackson slips past the Gardner Edgerton defender. Free State won 71-38 at Gardner Edgerton Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

A Friday night thriller that seemed like it might last well into Saturday’s early hours finally came to an end at Mill Valley High when Free State guard Cooper Jackson delivered two of the most important plays of the night in a 66-65 quadruple overtime win.

With the game tied at 65, Free State sought to take the final shot, just as it had at the close of the first and second OT periods. Jackson attacked off a drive to get to the foul line with 2.8 seconds left. After missing the first, he didn’t let the pressure get to him, and he made the second to send the Firebirds ahead, 66-65.

The Jaguars took a timeout. Then Jackson, who led the way with 18 points, shot through the inbound pass for a steal to seal the victory.

“We made it entertaining,” FSHS head coach Sam Stroh said after his team, ranked No. 5 in Class 6A, improved to 10-2.

An alley-oop pass from Jackson to Dash Cleveland for a weak side layup with 1:34 remaining in the fourth OT made Free State’s slim margin 65-62. Andrew Piper gave the visitors a 63-61 edge early in the fourth overtime.

Stroh was pleased to see his team repeatedly make key plays with Mill Valley performing so well.

“We just had to dig in and find a way to win in this league on the road,” Stroh said. “Maybe I’ll give them tomorrow off. We just basically put in two games in one night.”

Coming out of a timeout with four seconds left, Mill Valley’s Nick Mason misfired on a 3-pointer that could’ve won it in triple OT.

With the game tied at 61, Free State took its time — more than one minute for the possession — late in triple overtime before Mozae Downing attacked off the dribble and found an open Piper, who missed a runner from just outside the paint.

Downing’s effortless jumper with less than two minutes left on the triple overtime clock was the first bucket of the period and put FSHS up 61-59.

The Firebirds had a chance to finish their road trip at the end of the second OT. But when Downing (17 points) drove inside to feed Piper, the big man couldn’t quite handle the pass, leading to triple overtime with the foes still tied at 59.

“We had chances to win it, but we just kept having a missed free throw here, a missed boxout,” Stroh said. “And (MVHS) made plays, too, so give them credit. They played a hell of a game.”

Dylan Blazer forced the third OT by hitting a pair of foul shots with 16.2 seconds left in the second overtime, following a FSHS turnover off a defensive rebound.

With 37.3 seconds left in the second overtime, Jailen Thompson sank two crucial free throws, putting MVHS behind, 59-56. Earlier during the high-pressure finish, a timely deflection and steal by the Firebirds set up Downing to soar in on a fast break for a layup that put his team ahead, 57-56.

Pete Janssen scored off the offensive glass in the opening minute of the second OT, and MVHS led, 56-54.

Downing, who would eventually foul out after playing the fourth quarter and three OT periods with four fouls, took his defender off the bounce to pull up for a jumper on the left side that tied the game at 54 with 1:01 left in the first overtime.

Mill Valley then stretched out a possession for nearly a full minute. Thompson secured a defensive rebound for the Firebirds with three seconds showing on the OT clock. That allowed Stroh to call timeout and set up an inbound play that would have to cover as much of the floor as possible before time expired. But Cleveland’s shot, which followed a deep throw by Jet Dineen from the opposite baseline, was off, and the game went to double OT tied at 54.

Listed at 6-foot-7, Adrian Dimond (17 points) executed an up-and-under in a burst in the paint to give Mill Valley a 54-52 edge.

On the Firebirds’ second possession of OT, Piper (8 points) brought down an offensive rebound and drew a foul to get to the free throw line with his team down two. The starting center calmly made them both to tie the game at 52.

With 2:22 to go in the initial four-minute extra period, Nen Matlock twisted through the FSHS interior defense for the first lead of OT, 52-50.

Free State gave up a layup on a cut by Mason that tied the game at 50 late in the fourth.

The Firebirds have some time to recover from the marathon, with their next game coming on Tuesday at Olathe East.

Free State 66, Mill Valley 65 (4OT)

Free State (66)

Kris Daniels 6, Mozae Downing 17, Dash Cleveland 4, Jailen Thompson 4, Cole Wheeler 7, Andrew Piper 8, Cooper Jackson 18.

Mill Valley (65)

Nick Mason 12, Pete Janssen 8, Nen Matlock 6, Dylan Blazer 11, Adrian Dimond 17, Aaron Kephart 5, Zach Shrader 6.

FSHS 14 12 13 11 4 5 2 5 — 66

MVHS 9 16 12 13 4 5 2 4 — 65

Three-point goals: FSHS 4 (Daniels, Downing, Wheeler, Jackson); MVHS 9 (Mason 3, Shrader 2, Matlock, Kephart, Blazer, Dimond). Fouled out: Downing, Thompson, FSHS.


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