Jay County claims share of ACAC boys title with closing seconds basket against Heritage

Jay County’s Dusty Pearson goes up for a shot during a February 10 game against Heritage. (Photo by Brice Vance)

The play wasn’t drawn up for him, but Blake Bogenschutz was in the right place at the right time. 

Jay County trailed by one with 7.9 seconds, just after Heritage’s Landon Lybarger drilled a corner three to take the lead. The ensuing inbounds came to Josh Dowlen, who drove up the sideline and into the land before throwing a wild shot that had a slim chance of falling. Flying in from the other side to save the day was Bogenschutz for the putback and the game-winner in a 45-44 victory and a piece of the ACAC championship.

“It was very intense. It was a game we all wanted to win, because we all wanted to win the conference championship. For it to come down to the wire like that, it was a surreal moment,” Bogenschutz said. 

The senior guard knew there would be a chance for a putback. He just had to make sure he was in the right position.

“We’re trying to get the ball to Josh and let him go one-on-one full court, and if he has a layup, to take it. Our two big guys were on the blocks and the other guys went for the rebound,” Bogenschutz said. “If it was a miss, put it back. You don’t have much time.”

The host Patriots finished 5-1 in ACAC play, along with Adams Central, who they share the conference title with. It’s the second straight ACAC championship for the Patriots, who have turned their season around in the last month.

“We struggled early in the season and down the stretch we’re starting to win some games. Hopefully, in tournament play we can string them together and maybe win a sectional championship,” Bogenschutz said.

Jay County’s Josh Dowlen moves the ball during February 10’s game against Heritage. (Photo by Brice Vance)

Jay County started the season 2-7, which included a 29-28 loss to Heritage in the ACAC Tournament. Since then, Jay County has won six of seven and are currently on a three-game winning streak.

“We’re sharing the ball a lot better and knocking more shots down. Earlier in the year, we weren’t hitting shots. When you start hitting shots, your confidence goes up, team confidence goes up and you start playing better as a team,” Bogenschutz said. 

Sharing the ball was key for Jay County on Friday because Heritage came out in a couple of different looks defensive and a lot of zone looks. Ball movement was key and Jay County was able to find the spots in the zone for open looks 

After a slow start for both teams, shots started to fall. They fell in the second quarter for Heritage’s Luke Saylor, who had a game-high 19 points. He hit four triples in the first half and was largely held in check in the second half. Saylor went on a personal 8-0 run to put Heritage up 17-10 in the second quarter. The run included back-to-back threes and a steal and score.

Jay County answered with a run of its own and only trailed by one, 20-19, at the break.

Bogenschutz quickly put his team up six after sinking a pair from deep and was followed by Dowlen’s three for an eight-point advantage. Bogenschutz finished with 12 points, and Dowlen ended up with 14. Dusty Pearson also had 11 for Jay County.

Heritage got back-to-back easy, breakaway layups from Kobe Meyer to cut the lead back to two before the fourth.

The teams continued to trade buckets and the lead in the fourth quarter. The teams traded big shot after big shot down the stretch. But it was Bogenschutz who hit the biggest one at the right time.

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