FAIRVIEW PARK — When the coach whose team benefited from a game-ending call is as upset as the coach that saw his team lose, you know something’s strange.
Following his team’s 50-49 Division II sectional-opening win over Firelands, Fairview coach Bill Harvey had a few questions about how the game was officiated, especially in the fourth quarter when the officials tightened up how they called the game, whistling the teams for 13 fouls after calling just 10 total the first three quarters.
The final call, however, was the big one.
The Falcons (16-7) had fought back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 49-49 on a traditional three-point play from junior guard Nick Denney.
With 32.3 seconds left in regulation, Denney took an inbounds pass and scored while getting hit in the head. His free throw tied the game and set the stage for the frantic final seconds.
Fairview called a timeout with 14.4 seconds remaining to set up a final shot.
The Warriors threw the ball in the paint to freshman Noah Mesaros, who missed a turnaround jumper.
Richard Maggard grabbed the rebound for the Falcons, but he was bumped as he pulled the ball down and it bounced right to Warriors senior guard Josh Filkill under the basket.
Filkill rushed his shot and it rolled off, but with .2 seconds showing on the clock the outside official raced in and called a foul on Maggard.
Filkill hit the first free throw before intentionally missing the second to run out the clock.
“That was bad,” Harvey said of the call that sent his team into the next round, where it will face Padua on Saturday. “The calls down the stretch there ... those three quick ones ... you haven’t called that all game, and I had been asking about that, and now you change the complexion of the game? You do it one way and keep it that way.”
Firelands coach Alan Januzzi tried to put the loss in perspective.
“What I have to do is sit there and look at my seniors with tears in my eyes because their careers are over and they ended like this,” he said. “We coach because we’re here to teach life lessons, and life is full of injustices.
“When you go through a season of basketball, which I compare to a lifetime, you are going to have good and bad things happen. You have trials you will go through. If you can learn how to deal with those adversities, if you can learn how to be humble in your successes, I think we’ve taught them something they can carry on as they move forward.”
Early in the game it looked like the only lesson the Falcons were going to learn was a basketball one: if you shoot poorly and don’t take care of the basketball against a good zone defense you’re probably going to get blown out.
Fairview (17-6) came out in an unconventional 3-2 zone, and it took Firelands over a quarter to figure it out. Colin Myers scored in the paint the first time the Falcons had the ball, but it more than five minutes later before they scored again as Fairview raced out to a 16-4 lead.
Senior guard Dominic Januzzi struggled early for Firelands, missing all three of the 3-pointers he attempted in the first half. Denney also had problems with the zone, hitting just two of the eight shots he took in the first two periods.
After halftime, however, the Falcons’ shooters came to life.
Januzzi drained three 3-pointers in an 11-3 Firelands run that got them back into the game. His deep three from 10 feet behind the arc cut the Fairview lead to 32-30.
After Filkill stopped the Firelands run with a short jumper in the lane, Pat Brightbill hit another 3-pointer for the Falcons that sliced the lead to one. After a Fairview turnover, Firelands appeared to take the lead on a Maggard dunk in traffic, but it was waved off when Denney, who made the pass to Maggard, was called for a charge away from the play.
A Januzzi 3-pointer at the 4:09 mark of the fourth tied the game at 42, but Fairview responded with a 6-2 run. Firelands then answered with a 5-1 run that set up the frantic final seconds.
“He really turned it on, and he has that in him,” Alan Januzzi said of his son, Dominic. “We needed him. They were all over Colin inside and we needed Doc and Nick to step up. They both answered the call. I know it’s tough for Doc right now but I think this was a great performance to end his career on.”
Januzzi led all scorers with 19 points, while also getting five rebounds and four steals.
Myers scored nine points and blocked six shots in his final high school game.
“We were down pretty big and made it tough on ourselves, but we were able to fight back into it,” he said. “We stuck together and started making some shots. The call at the end could have gone either way. It didn’t go our way. That’s just how things work sometimes.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fairview 50, Firelands 49
FIRELANDS (49): Nick Denney 4-3-11, Dominic Januzzi 7-0-19, Patrick Brightbill 1-0-3, Brad Soltis 0-0-0, Colin Myers 3-3-9, Richard Maggard 2-1-5, Clayton Lucki 1-0-2. Totals 18-7-49.
FAIRVIEW (50): John McQuate 1-0-2, Josh Filkill 2-1-5, Grant Howes 4-0-11, Luke Howes 6-0-12, Colin Caja 3-0-7, Owen Morrison 0-0-0, Noah Mesaros 3-1-9, Aiden Salupo 1-1-4, Nick Reyes 0-0-0. Totals 20-3-50.
Three-point goals: Firelands 6-19 (Januzzi 5, Brightbill), Fairview 7-14 (G. Howes 3, Mesaros 2, Caja, Salupo). Field goals: Firelands 18-47 (38.2 percent), Fairview 20-40 (50 percent). Free throws: Firelands 7-9 (77.7 percent), Fairview 3-8 (37.5 percent). Rebounds: Firelands 30 (Maggard 7), Fairview 23 (Filkill 6). Turnovers: Firelands 13, Fairview 10. Total fouls: Firelands 9, Fairview 12.