ALLIANCE: Dom Iero’s guarded 3-point basket as time expired in overtime lifted North Canton Hoover to a heart-stopping 67-66 win over Green in a Division I district semifinal Thursday at Alliance High School.
“I saw 24 seconds left on the clock, down by two, and we called out a set for me to get a shot and that fell apart, so I gave it to [Alex] Shingleton and got it back as soon as possible,” said Iero, a senior guard who scored 22 of his 25 points after halftime. “I knew stuff was breaking down and I got a shot up and it went in — luckily. I’m so proud.”
The Vikings (21-4) advance to play Lake (21-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in a district championship game at Alliance High School.
Iero’s game-winning shot came with defenders on him and hands in his face. Unable to square his body or set his feet, Iero shot the ball falling to his left. It was his fifth 3-pointer of the game and 94th of the season.
Veteran Hoover coach Randy Montgomery had used his final timeout to keep star forward Harrison Blackledge in the game, having to work through cramps. Montgomery had to roll with the final possession after Green junior Nicholas Reale sank two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 66-64 lead with 24.2 seconds left.
“I knew if it was in [Iero’s] hands we were going to get something that might not be too bad,” Montgomery said. “He’s a winner.”
Iero wasn’t the only hero for Hoover.
Blackledge, a 6-foot-5 senior, converted a tough basket on the right low block with five seconds left in regulation time to force overtime.
“[Dan] Fanelly is a heckuva defender and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Blackledge, who scored 23 points. “But, I like my chances down there. When I can make a move, I have confidence in myself and my team backs me up.”
It was a bitter loss for Green (21-3), which led 26-9 midway through the second quarter and 30-21 at halftime.
Hoover used a 1-3-1 zone defense to force Green into seven third-quarter turnovers and the Vikings took a 40-38 lead on Blackledge’s layup with 1:23 left in the quarter.
However, coach Mark Kinsley’s team regained its balance and a 16-4 spurt, led by the 6-foot-6 senior Fanelly, who scored eight points in the run, had Green on top 58-50 with 1:52 to go in regulation.
Iero answered with two deep 3-pointers and Blackledge converted at the end to extend the game.
“We didn’t close it out like we normally close it out,” Kinsley said. “We didn’t get the stops and let [Iero] get loose and hit a couple [of 3-pointers]. We let them back in it.”
For the second year in a row at Alliance, Green’s season ended on an overtime buzzer-beater.
Fanelly scored a game-high 29 points and Reale added 14 for Green.
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