WEST ALEXANDRIA — Tony Augspurger said he tried to keep a straight face at halftime when he told his team he only had one chance to coach a game on the court which now bears his name — and he’d rather be 1-0 than 0-1.
After 33 years as the head coach of Twin Valley South’s boys basketball team, Friday, Feb. 14, marked Augspurger’s final home game.
And it was a dream ending.
Senior Cole Petersen hit the game-winning shot as time expired in overtime to lift the Panthers to a thrilling 51-49 upset of Arcanum in front of near capacity crowd, most of whom were in attendance to honor their coach.
Prior to the game, school officials honored Augspurger, who was surrounded by family, friends and several former players on the court, as they unveiled the newly named Coach A Court.
“I told them at halftime, I’m only coaching one game on this court when it’s named after me and I’d much rather be 1-0 than 0-1, without laughing,” he said. “Then they came out and took care of it for us.”
During his tenure, Augspurger has coached nine 1,000 point scorers in addition to being named Cross County Conference Coach of the Year five times, two-time SW District Coach of the year, AP Coach of the Year in 1994 and 1998 snd AP All-Ohio Co-Coach of the Year in 1998.
His teams won six CCC titles, including last season. The Panthers own six sectional titles and a district championship.
But on this night, the current group of Panthers, who have struggled this year, delivered one of his most memorable moments.
“I thought we had played pretty well in the first half. They had shot well and I thought we had done what we were trying to do defensively and moved pretty well,” he said. “They just made shots.”
Arcanum held a 13-12 lead after the first quarter and appeared on the verge of breaking the game open in the second quarter after Petersen picked up his third foul with about five minutes left.
“When Cole got his third foul, I called time out with four minutes to go in the half, and we were down six, I said ‘listen, Cole’s got to sit for the rest of the half. He’s got three fouls so we need to keep it at six (points).’” Augspurger said. “Our guys stepped up. Mikey Crews hit a three. Brayden (Marker) hit a three. So we go into the half down five instead of down 12 or something like that where we’re kind of out of touch.”
With Petersen on the bench, South closed to within 24-22 late in the half. The Trojans hit a three with 15 seconds left to take a 27-22 halftime lead.
In the third, Arcanum extended its lead to as many as 10 (38-28) with a minute left. A Marker three with 45 seconds left made it a 38-31 game after three.
In the fourth, South trailed by eight (43-35) with just over five minutes to play and was down 44-38 with four minutes left.
An 8-0 run, five from Petersen and three from Marker, gave the Panthers their first lead (46-44 with 1:32 left) since it was 14-13 early in the second quarter.
Arcanum tied the game with with a minute left.
South then took possession near mid-court with 10 seconds left. Marker dribbled to the top of the key and passed to Petersen, who was then double teamed, before passing the ball back to Marker at the top of the key.
Marker, who finished the game with 17 points, including going 5-of-8 from 3, never hesitated and launched a three, which nestled in the bottom of the net with five seconds left to give South a 49-46 lead.
“Brayden did not run the play that I called. He just came down and banged the heck out of a three, which was awesome,” Augspurger joked after the game. “Brayden is someone that’s had health issues. He’s had so much going on this year. He’s not played with the confidence that he should have for the ability he has. He played with it tonight. He hit a bunch of big shots. He did a great job, I thought, guarding (Carter) Gray when we went to man. In this game, I thought he played the best that he’s played.”
But the Trojans were not ready to let the Panthers have their dream ending.
The visitors hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to tie the game and force overtime.
In the overtime, Arcanum was 0-for-3 and committed two turnovers. South finished 1-for-3 with a pair of turnovers.
After an Arcanum turnover on an offensive foul, South got the ball back with six second lefts and drew up a simple play.
“I thought in the overtime we won it with defense and we did run the play I called this time,” Augspurger said with a laugh. “It’s just a play where we start out flat, we bring Cole up and get him the ball and say drive and go do stuff. He’s good at that. He did a great job of just going and winning it.”
Petersen, who scored 21 points and had five rebounds and four assists, got the ball at the left elbow with his back to the basket. He spun left, took two dribbles, and launched a shot from the middle of the paint which bounced on the rim three times before falling as time expired setting off wild celebration.
“Cole’s a baller. Cole’s a good player. He’s athletically limited, but man he does good stuff. He’s worked at his game,” Augspurger said.
After the game, a majority of the crowd stayed and watched Augspurger cut the net down on his court one final time.
“Obviously, it was a dream come true ending,” he said. “It was special night. What I feel about being blessed and humbled by being the basketball coach at Twin Valley South for 33 years, I mean that with all my heart. It’s been something where I’ve loved our guys and I’ve loved our teams. It’s like everything else, we’ve had downsides and issues and problems, but for the most part, I’ve been just happy to be able to work with our guys and try to go out and be as good as we can be.”
Then he added.
“Now, let’s go win some tournament games.”
South (4-18) is scheduled to play either Cedarville or Yellow Springs in the sectional final at Troy High School, on Thursday, Feb. 27. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 of follow on Twitter @emowen_RH