Aldinger three sinks Chargers

Robert Blackford
Michael Bowen takes a shot under the basket Monday night.

The Golden Eagles trailed Orion by one point in the closing seconds of overtime when C.J. Aldinger banged home a three pointer to propel Mercer County into the next round of the Sherrard Regional.

It was the second buzzer beater of the night for the Golden Eagles. At the end of the the Golden Eagles trailed by two points. The Golden Eagles called a timeout with 5.7 seconds remaining in the game. After the timeout was over the referees took two seconds off the clock giving the Golden Eagles only 3.7 seconds to work with. Following the inbounds  Aldinger found Michael Bowen alone under the basket. Bowen hit the uncontested layup to send the game into overtime.

"Micheal did exactly what he was suppose to do," said Mercer County Coach Brian Hutton. "He set his pick and released toward the basket and C.J. saw him open and got the ball to him."

The good news for the Golden Eagles was that they won. The bad news is they get to face the undefeated top ranked Rockridge Rockets in the next game of the regionals. "I kind of hoped they would send them to New York or somewhere far away from our regional," joked Hutton. "They (Rockridge) are a great team. I'll have to come up with my most creative game plan of the year. Happ gets all the credit over there but their role players have really come on."

It was a back and forth struggle throughout the first quarter with the Golden Eagles coming out on top 16-14 although Orion's Christian Allen hit a shot at the buzzer.

The second quarter was much of the same as neither team led by more than three points.

In the third quarter Orion broke out early on top and kept an edge throughout the third period. The Chargers outscored Mercer County 19-13 in the period and led 45-39 heading into the final quarter. Brandon Butcher did most of his damage in the third period with six points.

The Golden Eagles caught fire in the fourth period with an 8-2 run to start the period. Tyson Nylin hit a three pointer and scored five points during the run to give Mercer County a 48-47 lead with 6:12 remaining in the period. Orion came back with a mini 5-0 run to retake the lead at 52-48. The Golden Eagles continued to stay close a three pointer from Nylin at the 2:17 mark to cut Orion;s lead to 54-53.

A big blow to the Golden Eagles' efforts came with 39.3 seconds remaining as Brandon Butcher fouled out. Michael Bowen was able to hit the shot to tie the game to send it into overtime.

The Golden Eagles built up a six point lead in the overtime session with Spencer Wood, Tyson Nylin and Aldinger hitting baskets.

Orion came back to tie the score thous with Logan Thornburg hitting a big three pointer to cut the Golden Eagles lead to one and then another basket to give Orion the one point lead.

Aldinger's heroics wouldn't have happened in the final seconds of Wood doesn't come through with an offensive rebound to keep the play alive.

"He just went to the basket and acted like he wasn't going to be denied," said Hutton about Wood's play.

Scoring for Mercer County were: Aldinger and Wood with 16; Nylin and Butcher with 14; Bowen with six.

Allen led all scorers with 30 points.