READING — Reading’s Jaeden Orr appeared as if he had waited too long to start the Blue Devils’ attempt at a game-winning basket.
Starting with 29.4 seconds remaining in a game tied at 64, he waited until the final seconds to pass it to AJ Brown in the right corner. Brown had to hoist an off-balance three, missing the rim.
However, Mancini Jackson worked for inside position against three Blanchester defenders, catching the errant shot and putting it in as time expired Tuesday to give Reading a 66-64 victory.
It was a disappointing end to a difficult final quarter for a Blanchester team that led the game by as many as 13 points in the third.
Reading outscored Blanchester 22-11 in the final frame.
BHS head coach Adam Weber was understandably frustrated after the loss.
“We ran away from the ball,” Weber said. “We lacked poise. We kind of fell back into what has been our Achilles’ heel which was, when a team really gets after us defensively, we make easy mistakes … couldn’t convert easy layups at the basket.”
After leading by nine to start the fourth, Blanchester saw the advantage disappear with three minutes left when Brown gave the Blue Devils (1-2) a 59-57 lead.
Nick Hopkins answered 30 seconds later with a three to put the Wildcats back up by a point. After a Jackson basket gave Reading the lead right back, Dylan Miller scored to put Blan up 62-61 with 1:45 left.
After a Wildcat steal, Nick Hopkins scored to give Blan a three-point lead with 85 seconds remaining.
Brown would answer with a three from the right wing, tying the game at 64 and setting up the final drama.
Joe Williams led Reading with 25 points, making 7 of 12 from outside the arc. Dylan Miller led Blanchester (0-2) with 21 points. Harbor Lovin, Jordan Stroud and Nick Hopkins each scored in double figures as well.
Blanchester made just 10 of 20 from the free throw line.
“They were crucial,” Weber said. “We’ve had so many things to try to correct in two games. It was between the ears in the last three minutes.”
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016
At Reading High School, Reading, Ohio
Reading 66, Blanchester 64
(64) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Nick Hopkins 3-1-3-10, Quenton Miller 3-0-2-8, Dylan Miller 9-2-1-21, Harbor Lovin 5-0-1-11, Jordan Stroud 4-1-2-11, JD Wiederhold 1-0-1-3. TOTALS 25-4-10-64.
(66) READING (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Gabe Van Skaik 2-0-1-5, Jaeden Orr 1-0-0-2, Mancini Jackson 3-0-0-6, AJ Brown 3-1-0-7, Joe Williams 9-7-0-25, Johnny Miller 3-1-0-7, Sean Hankerson 3-0-0-6, Jacob Courtney 2-0-4-8. TOTALS 26-9-5-66.
FIELD GOALS: B 25/50 (Dylan Miller 9/15, Harbor Lovin 5/8, Jordan Stroud 4/10); R 26/59 (Joe Williams 9/14)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: B 4/11 (Dylan Miller 2/6); R 9/21 (Joe Williams 7/12)
FREE THROWS: B 10/20 (Nick Hopkins 3/5); R 5/8 (Jacob Courtney 4/6)
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton