DAYTON — There was no clock to wind down in UD Arena Sunday night. Ohio 1804 was a mere four points away from completing a 17-point comeback to reach the target score of 76 in the Elam Ending.
The crowd roared as Ohio 1804 earned possessions to keep the Golden Eagles from scoring the magic point. However, the arena fell silent after the ball left Elgin Cook’s hand and swished through the net to give the Golden Eagles a 77-72 victory.
Ohio 1804 didn’t want to go out with a loss, but it couldn’t have been more proud to go out the way it did.
“We had a lot of pride,” Ohio 1804 coach Aaron Fuss said. “Those guys have a ton of pride, like we had a ridiculous fan showing tonight. It was a lot of fun in the game.”
Despite losing the opening tip, Ohio 1804 was a fireball in the first half. It stayed hot and kept the Golden Eagles away from a lead until the second quarter. Ohio 1804 found its stride quick. It dominated in field goal percentage and leaned into Ryan Taylor’s shooting abilities.
However, Ohio 1804 fell off fast in the middle of the game. The Golden Eagles earned the crown in almost every major statistical category due to their finesse. Ohio 1804 simply didn’t have the buttery play it needed to continue on in The Tournament.
Ohio 1804 seemed to try and match the suaveness of the Golden Eagles, but it couldn’t. The two had different styles of basketball and it showed on the court Sunday night. The Golden Eagles were quick with everything. They would switch and find a shot anywhere they could, simply causing a ruckus.
“We knew they were going to pressure us,” Fuss said. “We thought they were probably going to switch a lot and so it was going to be a lot of ‘hey, just be basketball players.’”
There were times when Ohio 1804 did just that. It made plays when it needed to and it didn’t fear driving through the paint. But, there were also times where it seemed as if Ohio 1804 was unsure of what it was doing. The pressure from the Golden Eagles simply became too much.
But, Ohio 1804 still played hard. Three players fouled out and one came close to doing so. One of those players who fouled out, Antonio Campbell, led both teams in scoring with 21 points, and another, Jordan Barham, led both teams in rebounds with 19.
The loss stung, but it wasn’t what stayed fresh on Ohio 1804’s mind. It was the rush that its athletes got from getting to wear the green and white again. The feeling was almost surreal for them.
“My freshman year, I played at (Ohio), and I haven’t worn the jersey since,” Ryan Taylor said. “It was nice to get back out there and play with my friends.”
Ohio 1804 may have backed its bags and headed home from Dayton Sunday night, but the young team has spunk that is promising for the future.