Who you going to turn to when Centerville desperately needs a game-winning bucket? Easy, Clayton Schmerber.
“He can jump the highest,” Elks boys basketball coach Brook Cupps admitted. “That’s what we were going for there.”
Schmerber, a 6-foot-6 junior, delivered when needed most. The designated jumping-jack knocked down a buzzer-beating layup that stunned host Beavercreek and a packed field house on Friday night, providing the difference in a 44-43 Centerville victory.
Basketball should always be so simple. And sometimes it is, with the right stuff.
Still giddy after being back-slapped by teammates and Elks fans, Schmerber put the win in Elks’ perspective.
“We can accomplish something this year that Centerville has never accomplished,” he said. “We’ve got all the ingredients to get there. It’s so much fun. It’s a crazy life experience that I’ll never get back.”
It’s official: Game-winning shots can turn the launcher into a deep thinker. And why not?
The Beavers (10-2) appeared capable of running away with a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division title. The Elks (9-3) would make certain they were no easy out.
Beavercreek, once flexing a 9-0 start to the season, has lost two of three. There is no immediate relief. Beavercreek hosts Wayne on Tuesday and is at Northmont next Friday.
Still, a senior-laden, healthy and deeply experienced lineup should serve the Beavers well over the second half of the season and into the postseason.
Centerville will find out if it’s fully recovered from a 1-3 midseason slide by hosting Moeller on Tuesday.
The Elks finished the first half with four starters sitting because of foul trouble. Halftime seemed to save Centerville from an early knockout.
But the Elks stayed in contention with clutch bench play. Mitch Balser’s trey put Centerville up 42-41 with 12.7 seconds left.
Center Zach Rower answered for Creek with a rim rattler, but leaving 5.2 ticks.
That was enough time for Schmerber to slip behind the Beavers’ defense off a well-defensed inbounds play. Ballgame.
“If you believe in the universe evening out, we stole one at Fairborn and (Centerville) took one,” Beavercreek coach John Ahrns conceded.
“The last play was a microcosm of the whole game. They won the big possessions and we didn’t … and it showed up on that last play.”
Austin Recker led the Elks with 11 points and Joey Weingartner added 10. Schmerber had just four points, including the one that counted most.
Jarred Waters led the Beavers with 13 points.
Schmerber’s vision quest is a good goal for any good team. As of midseason, the GWOC Central doesn’t have anything but.
“We (didn’t) play the way that we exactly wanted to,” Schmerber said, “but we got it off and that’s all that matters.”