Redemption is a beautiful thing.
Just ask Andrew Francesconi.
The 6-foot-4 junior forward was given a second chance in Tallmadge’s 60-52 overtime victory over visiting Green after missing an easy shot that would have won it in regulation Friday.
Both he and his teammates knew the result would be different if given another opportunity.
The score was tied 47-47 after Green’s Austin Marciniak made a huge 3-pointer in the corner.
Francesconi and the Blue Devils (12-9, 8-5) were given the ball with 45 seconds remaining and a chance to defeat the rival Bulldogs for the second time this season and potentially dash their hopes of a Suburban League title.
Francesconi got the look he wanted, a shot his coach said he would make nine times out of 10 — this was the one.
“I was going to have two screens at the top of the key, one on each side and I could pick whichever way I wanted to go,” Francesconi said. “Justin Cambria didn’t run the play right so he was stuck on my right side and I wanted to go right. So I had to go left. They didn’t hedge it very well, I saw a lane and got to the rim, I just have to finish that.”
After the best player on the court missed a bunny to win, he was picked up from the unlikeliest of sources in overtime.
A sophomore, Cambria, and a player who hadn’t scored a point all game, Joe Vassalotti, came up huge with five quick points to give the Blue Devils the momentum early in overtime.
“That’s why this is a great team win,” Tallmadge coach Mike Bluey said. “The sum of the parts is always greater than the whole. Not one player can go win a big game against a really good basketball team like Green.”
The Bulldogs (13-7, 9-4) battled back to tie the score at 52-52 with two minutes remaining in overtime and that was when Francesconi was given his second chance.
Francesconi dribbled around the top of the key for almost a full minute before the Bulldogs decided to double-team him. When the double-team came, he split the defenders and drove to the hole for the go-ahead basket, putting the Devils ahead 54-52 with 54 seconds remaining.
From there, the Devils went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line to seal the victory.
Francesconi was double-teamed early in the game and had trouble getting going offensively. What he didn’t have trouble doing was finding his open teammates beyond the arc, finishing with five assists to go along with his 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Nate Bickar made three first-half 3-pointers and Niko Skeriotis and Colten Stricker each added one to keep the Blue Devils in it while Francesconi found his rhythm.
Carson Corle led the Bulldogs with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Coming into the game, Green was tied with Highland — which defeated Wadsworth 63-61 in double overtime — atop the Suburban League. The Bulldogs are now in second place and can only share the title with a win over Nordonia and a Highland loss against Copley.