Notholt's free throw lifts Foran into state tourney

With a one-point lead and 3:36 on the clock, the mandate was simple for the Foran High boys basketball team was simple: Keep running its offense and execute.

Coach Tim Swaller’s Lions did just that, and after Cheshire High tied the game at 41-41, Bob Notholt’s free throw with 4.6 seconds on the clock sent the supportive student section into a frenzy.

Three hectic inbounds plays later, Ram sharpshooter Eric Dietrich’s 3-pointer just missed the front of the rim and Foran had earned a berth in the state tournament.

“Our backs were up against the wall. It was a big spot on Senior Night and the guys stepped up, the entire team responded,” Swaller said  of his team’s victory at the Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Thursday. “ I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Austin Woods, Casey McCone and Kevin Green saw their scholastic careers extended because Foran found a way to control a Cheshire team that had defeated it 76-56 the first time the SCC rivals met.

Woods scored 15 points with eight blocked shots, McCone 11 and Green and his backcourt mates — Nick Weissauer and Matt Gomes — did everything they could do keep victory within reach.

And, then there is Notholt, who scored 9 points, none bigger than the last one.

Foran ran its offensive scheme three times as the clock wound down, before Gomes beat his defender into the lane and dished the ball off to Notholt on the left block.

He went hard to the rim and was fouled, as the ball rolled out.

“There was a lot of pressure,” the 6-5 junior forward said from outside the Lions’ dressing room. “I was in the same situation two games ago against Xavier and missed both shots.

“After I missed the first one tonight, I said, ‘Oh no.’ Then, I took a deep breathe.”

Notholt’s second free throw was true. Now it was  a matter of stopping the Rams.

Swaller had two timeouts left and used each one like he was teaching at a clinic.

Before Notholt stepped to the line, he signaled to Woods to call timeout after the made shot — yes like Norman Dale in Hoosiers he didn’t consider that Ollie/Bob would miss.

With three fouls to give, Foran was in position to make each of the 94 feet to the Cheshire basket difficult for the Rams to travel.

Gomes fouled Collin Jordan at midcourt with 2.6 now on the clock

Swaller again called time to make it clear to his cagers: Foul, but not on a shot attempt.

Notholt made it difficult  for Jordan to inbound the ball, and after Dietrich grabbed the high throw, Gomes hugged him so he couldn’t launch a 3-pointer.

Dietrich (22 points) was 6-for-7 from beyond the arc at this point, his only miss a desperation heave at the third-quarter buzzer.

There was 0.8 seconds remaining.

This time on the inbounds, Foran’s three bigs were under the basket to guard against a rebound hoop.

Weissauer harrassed Jordan, before Dietrich took the ball and launched a quick 33-footer from above the foul line that was dead-on, but short.

Foran improved to 8-12, while Cheshire leveled off at 10-10.

See the next edition of the Mirror for complete game story.