ALLIANCE — It was West Branch and Alliance 2.0 Tuesday night in the Harry Fails Gymnasium.
For the second time in four days, the Warriors and the Aviators went at it in an Eastern Buckeye Conference battle.
Again, as in the first meeting, the game could have gone either way.
In an overtime thriller, the Aviators outscored the Warriors 13-2 in the four-minute extra session to snag a 65-54 win.
It was a game of momentum with West Branch having all the momentum it needed at the end of regulation.
Following a timeout with the score tied at 52-all West Branch had two free throws with less than a second remaining, but both attempts bounced off the rim, sending the game to overtime.
“We hung in there mentally, it was tough,” said Alliance coach Larry Kukura. “It was a tough scenario. When you lose your lead and the momentum it is very hard to get it back.”
The Aviators came out in the overtime period with renewed energy.
“We got a second chance and we knew it," said Kukura. "We weren’t going to blow it. I told the kids in the huddle we aren’t going to be denied. We had great energy and it looked like they went a little flat.”
The Aviators and Marlington Dukes are tied for the top spot in the EBC with 6-1 records. West Branch is 5-2.
It was a game of momentum as neither team could get a lead and hold it.
West Branch (9-2, 5-2 EBC) led 14-12 after the opening quarter. But the Aviators opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run for a 25-16 advantage halfway through the period. The run was led by 6-foot-8 senior post player Stephen Gales with six points. Alliance led 32-23 at the intermission.
There was no quit in the Warriors as they battled back in the third quarter to trail by a point at 42-41.
In the final period, West Branch got the lead and led by four points three different times in the quarter.
Holding a 3-point lead with just over two minutes left, the Warriors tried to run some time off of the clock. Forced to foul, Alliance got a steal and sophomore Brendan Zurbrugg canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 25 seconds remaining to tie the game at 52-52.
Four players scored in double figures for Alliance (9-2 overall). Senior Gage Ford led the way with 16 points, sophomore K'Vaughn Davis followed with 15, Gales was next with 14 and Zurbrugg finished with 12 points.
Warriors coach Michael Brown was pleased with the way his team battled.
“I am proud of our effort,” Brown said. “To battle is something. It is not easy to win over here. It is a tough environment to play in. I thought we were ready to play. We just have to keep our heads up right now and make sure we go down Friday night to Carrollton and take care of business.”
West Branch still has time to make a run at the league title.
“We had a tough start last year and battled back,” Brown said. “These guys understand that this is a marathon and not a sprint.”
Dru DeShields led the Warriors with 15 points, while Jaxson Hendershott added 12 and Nick Wilson 10.
This article originally appeared on The Alliance Review: Alliance defeats West Branch in overtime in EBC showdown