If there is one theme running through this year’s edition of the Sandusky Blue Streaks, it’s that they are incredibly young and talented, but will have to suffer through some growing pains before it gets better. Tuesday night was no exception, as the Streaks lost another heartbreaker, this time 60-59 in overtime to Tiffin Columbian in a Northern Ohio League matchup.
While losing is never easy, Sandusky has had its share of several blowout losses and even more close calls. With the caliber of opponents on the Streaks schedule, it will only make them better down the road.
Right now, though, the losing hurts.
“Any time you can get to be involved in close games with youth, hopefully that experience pays dividends in the long run,” said Sandusky coach Dustin Sharp. “But I tell you what, this one stung. It’d be nice to come out on the winning end of these close ones as well.”
The game was a tight game the entire way, with neither team able to put the other away. The biggest lead was a 16-10 advantage the Streaks enjoyed after ending the first quarter on a 7-0 run. A Bryan Williams bucket, two free throws from sophomore Davion Fisher and a 3-pointer from freshman Jayrese Williams gave Sandusky (3-17, 2-9) the early momentum to close out the first eight minutes.
After that, though, the Streaks didn’t have an answer for Tornadoes big man Derek Dryfuse. The 6-foot-6 junior post scored 27 of his game-high 29 points in the final three quarters and overtime to propel Columbian to victory.
“The Dryfuse kid hurt us down low,” Sharp said. “We’ve got these guys again on Friday, and that’s going to eat at them because they felt like they should have had this one at home. But this was a tough loss. They played hard, they played their butts off.”
Tuesday's game was a rescheduled affair because of weather issues earlier in the year, and with each having a non-conference game tonight, the Tornadoes (11-9, 6-5) and the Blue Streaks go back at it in the regular season finale Friday.
“I thought both teams, with not having school today and not even sure if we were going to play, came out in the first half really flat,” said Columbian coach Bill Beaston. “Both teams lacked a lot of energy. It was a struggle to get to halftime. We got a couple of baskets late in the half to get a lead and I thought that was important.”
Down 26-21, the Tornadoes finished the second quarter on an 8-2 spurt to enter halftime up 29-28. Dryfuse had two free throws and a bucket inside, Isiah Moore hit a jumper, and Josh Flint scored inside just before the buzzer to propel Columbian to its first lead since its 10-9 advantage midway through the first quarter.
“Credit to Sandusky kids,” Beaston added. “They kept battling. There were a couple times we could have extended the lead to make it a three possession or four possession game and really put it away. We made a play at the end, one more play than they did, I guess.”
Sandusky had an opportunity at the end of regulation to win it, and another chance at the end of overtime to at least try to get off a shot and win it, but came up empty both times.
With Columbian having the ball out-of-bounds under the Streaks' basket with three seconds to play in the fourth quarter, Demond Hopkins deflected the inbounds pass from Donovan Walker, which ricocheted to Fisher, but his 3-point attempt at the buzzer couldn’t find the net.
In the overtime, the Streaks had the ball out-of-bounds underneath the Tornadoes basket, but a sloppy inbounds pass was intercepted by Columbian, and Sandusky was never able to get off a final shot attempt to try and win it. Sharp hopes learning from these kinds of game situations pays off in the future, especially as more game experience is gained.
“Things like that, just the overall experience helps out,” Sharp said, whose team also struggled at the line, going just 4-of-11. “Obviously, if you make one here or there, it’s a different outcome. You can say we lost the game with our free throws, but we did some other things that could help, too. You can’t blame anything on one area in basketball. You win as a team and you lose as a team.
“You’ve got to try to go out and earn it and effort wise I can’t complain,” he added. “My kids go out and compete every night and they play their hardest every night.”
Jayrese Williams led the Streaks with 16 points, with Deontra Palma adding 12 and George Brown finishing with 11. Moore scored 12 for the Tornadoes to join Dryfuse in double figures.
Even though they are struggling now, Beaston took notice of the talent the Streaks have.
“I think their guard play is outstanding for as young as they are and the impact they are making on the game,” he said. “For their age it’s pretty impressive. I think (Hopkins) has improved a lot, and as he develops that will give them the balance they need to be really good as a team.”