JACKSON — In between Dillon Steward scoring at will early, and driving in for the Blue Lions’ most important basket late, the host Jackson Ironmen crafted a comeback —and successfully completed it by working overtime on Friday night.
By shifting some gears defensively, and getting untracked offensively, the Ironmen erased an 11-point first-half deficit and prevailed 62-55 in overtime for a key Frontier Athletic Conference boys basketball victory.
With the win — which was the Ironmen’s second consecutive — Jackson raised its record to 4-1, while Washington fell to 3-2.
Both teams are now 2-1 in what’s shaping up to be an ultra-competitive FAC.
Steward, in leading the Blue Lions out to an 18-7 advantage with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter and a 30-24 halftime edge, scored 23 first-half points.
However, he finished with a game-high 27 —meaning he scored only two more field goals over the final dozen minutes and before fouling with two minutes remaining in overtime.
Although, his drive down the middle of the lane with three seconds remaining forced the game to an extra session — as the Ironmen lost a 50-43 advantage with only 55 seconds to play in regulation.
But all the Blue Lions got in overtime was a basket by Richie Burns to give them their last lead, as the Ironmen answered with 11 unanswered — leading 62-52 in for their largest advantage of the entire night.
A three-point goal by Ross Matthews beat the overtime buzzer, but not before the Ironmen mounted their comeback — which saw them lead from the 1:15 mark of the third quarter until Steward’s slice down the lane for the 50-50 tie.
The Ironmen, after Caleb Wallis scored to make it 53-52 with three minutes remaining, never trailed again.
Steward sank seven two-point goals and drilled four first-half three-pointers towards his 27, as his old-fashioned three-point play with 1:45 to go before halftime made it 28-21 in favor of the Blue Lions.
But Washington held a lead no larger than six for the final nine minutes and 36 seconds, as Jackson’s Caden Donaldson dialed in a three-ball to put the Ironmen ahead 35-34 with 1:55 remaining in the third.
Another Donaldson three — exactly three minutes later — made it 41-37, as a pair of Wallis one-and-one free throws upped the Jackson advantage to 48-43 with 1:49 to play.
Cooper Donaldson then scored off an inbounds assist from Caden Donaldson, making it 50-43 only 54 seconds later.
But baskets by Burns (42 seconds) and Blaise Tayese (20 seconds) just 22 seconds apart —combined with a pair of missed Ironmen free throws — set Steward’s stage for the game-tying layup.
However, the overtime — and ultimately the outcome — belonged to Jackson, which has now won all three meetings against the Blue Lions as members of the FAC.
Although the Blue Lions shot slightly better than Jackson, both overall (Washington 23-of-52 for 44-percent and Jackson 22-of-51 for 43-percent) and from three-point range (Washington 6-of-21 for 29-percent and Jackson 3-of-15 for 20-percent), Washington had 21 turnovers which resulted in 18 Ironmen points.
Burns bucketed 17 points on eight field goals and a foul shot — with nine of those markers coming in the fourth.
Tayese, on two field goals, and Evan Upthegrove — on a first-quarter three and split of third-quarter free throws — added four points apiece.
The Blue Lions shot just six free throws and made three, while the Ironmen attempted 23 and drained 15 — including 9-of-14 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Only four Ironmen scored, but three reached double figures, as Caden Donaldson spilt a pair of third-quarter freebies in addition to his two trifectas.
Treylan Davis, on 10 field goals and 2-of-3 free throws, dropped in 22 points to pace the Red and White.
Wallis went off for 17 points on four total field goals and 8-of-10 free throws, and dished out five of the club’s 11 assists.
Cooper Donaldson scored 16 on six field goals and 4-of-8 foul shots, and was the only player to post a double-double as he secured a game-high 11 rebounds.
Wallis with seven and Davis with five were the other top boarders for Jackson, while Steward led the Blue and White with eight.
Washington is back at home Tuesday, taking on McClain with the j-v game at 6 p.m.