ATHENS — Things were going very well for the Miami Trace Panthers in their Division II District semifinal game against Fairfield Union Friday night at Ohio University.
The Panthers had fought their way to an 8-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 32-24.
However, as the Panthers knew going in, the Falcons are a very dangerous three-point shooting team and that was what turned the tide for Fairfield Union as they posted a 49-44 victory.
The Falcons hit four three-pointers on four straight trips down the floor in the fourth quarter, beginning with 4:38 to play.
Fairfield Union went from 34-28 down, to a 40-34 lead in the span of less than two minutes.
The Panthers were in a bind, trailing by eight points with 1:32 to play in the game.
To their credit, the Panthers continued to battle.
Blake Pittser hit a bucket and, after Fairfield Union missed a pair of free throws, Pittser scored again to make it 44-42.
Fairfield Union made the next two free throws and DeAndre Pettiford scored again to make it 46-44, with just 18 seconds remaining.
The Panthers had to foul, and Fairfield Union made 1 of 2 from the line, leaving the door slightly ajar.
Miami Trace nearly took a two-point shot, but corrected and went for a three-point attempt.
The shot was blocked, however and the Panthers had to quickly foul again.
Again, the Falcons made the two free throws for what would be the final, 49-44.
Miami Trace ends the season with a record of 16-9.
Fairfield Union, now 21-4, will take on Vinton County in the District finals.
In Friday’s first game, Vinton County (20-4) overcame a double-digit deficit to pull the upset of the Unioto Shermans, 50-47.
Unioto ends the season with a record of 23-2.
Blake Pittser led the Panthers with 16 points.
Fellow junior DeAndre Pettiford scored 15 points and achieved a double-double with a game-high 14 rebounds. He also had two blocked shots.
Junior Tyrae Pettiford had 8 points, including a steal and a slam dunk in the second half. He was second on the team with six rebounds.
Sophomore Darby Tyree scored five for the Panthers.
Colin Woodside, a 6-5 sophomore, poured in 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Falcons.
Junior Hayden Price scored 15 points and sophomore Lucas Thompson hit three three-pointers for nine points.
Miami Trace began the game with a 5-2 lead with a bucket from DeAndre Pettiford and a three from Pittser.
Pittser had another trey to make it 8-4, Panthers.
Miami Trace got the lead up to 12-6 before Fairfield Union scored to make it 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was even, with each team scoring 11 points. The Panthers led 23-19 at the half.
It was another good quarter for Miami Trace in the third, outscoring Fairfield Union, 9-5 to take a 32-24 lead into the final quarter.
Woodside hit a couple of free throws and a bucket to pull the Falcons to within four, 32-28.
Pittser had a lay-up that made it 34-28.
It was at that point that the Falcons hit four threes on four consecutive possessions to turn the game around.
“We’ve been on the good end of that here recently,” Miami Trace head coach Rob Pittser said. “Tonight, we were on the sour end of that.
“They have kids that can really shoot the three,” Pittser said. “We knew that going in.”
Those three-pointers brought Fairfield Union storming back.
However, at the free throw line, the Falcons made 16 of 22, while the Panthers made 5 of 6.
“I thought our pressure was good to us,” Pittser said. “Both the full-court man and the three-quarter court trap. We never really got hurt out of that at all in the first three quarters.”
Miami Trace says thank you and farewell to one senior: Brad Card.
“Brad’s done a great job,” Pittser said. “He’s been super committed to the program and we thank him very much.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 12 11 9 12 — 44
FU 8 11 5 25 — 49
MIAMI TRACE — DeAndre Pettiford 3 (2)-3-15; Tyrae Pettiford 3-2-8; Mitchell Creamer 0-0-0; Blake Pittser 5 (2)-0-16; Darby Tyree 1 (1)-0-5; Cameron Carter 0-0-0; Skyler McDonald 0-0-0; Seth Leach 0-0-0; Jacob Batson 0-0-0. TOTALS — 12 (5)-5-44. Free throw shooting: 5 of 6 for 83 percent. Three-point field goals: Pittser, 2; D. Pettiford, 2; Tyree. Combined field goal shooting: 17 of 52 for 33 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 5 of 20 for 25 percent. Turnovers: 8. Rebounds: 30 (7 offensive). Blocks: 3. Steals: 4. Assists: 6.
FAIRFIELD UNION — Matt Smith 0-0-0; Colin Woodside 4-9-17; Lucas Thompson 0 (3)-0-9; Hayden Price 5 (1)-2-15; Thomas Green 0 (1)-1-4; Brad Miller 0-4-4; Jack Wolshire 0-0-0; Logan McNeal 0-0-0. TOTALS — 9 (5)-16-49. Free throw shooting: 16 of 22 for 73 percent. Three-point field goals: Thompson, 3; Price, Green. Combined field goal shooting: 14 of 41 for 34 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 5 of 19 for 26 percent. Turnovers: 13. Rebounds: 37 (8 offensive). Blocks: 3. Assists: 8. Steals: 2.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1