After a first half in which neither team appeared keen on winning, Prophetstown and Fulton treated the fans to quite a show for the final two quarters, plus two overtime periods, before the Prophets pulled out a 61-51 victory Friday night in Three Rivers Conference boys basketball.
The teams were tied 11-11 at halftime before turning it on after intermission.
"The little things down the stretch matter, and we didn't make enough plays to win it," Fulton coach RJ Coffey said. "They're one of those teams that always play hard, and tonight they outworked us."
Grant Ames opened the second overtime by making a pair of free throws that gave the Prophets a 50-48 lead, and they led the rest of the way.
Ethan Howard made 1 of 2 free throws moments later, then converted a three-point play on a 2-on-1 break on Prophetstown's next possession to push the lead to 54-48. Ames added four more free throws, while Josh Sigel, Seth Cady and Austin Gerlach each converted 1 of 2 attempts to seal the victory.
"(Ames) was big from the free-throw line — everybody was — and they shot more than we did," Coffey said. Prophetstown finished 26-of-35 from the line, compared with Fulton's 21-for-23 line.
Howard finished with a game-high 24 points, while Ames scored 20, which included an 11-for-12 effort from the free-throw line. Matt Dail led Fulton (13-5, 3-2 conference) with 15 points, while Kyle Huebner added 14. Zach Barber, Fulton's leading scorer on the season, wound up with nine but was held scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Howard's biggest basket came in the final minute of the first overtime.
With Prophetstown trailing 48-45, Howard missed a 3-pointer, but the Prophets got the ball back and he delivered a shot from well behind the 3-point line to tie it.
"The first overtime, we were up for most of it," Coffey said. " We got the rebound (on Howard's miss) but were called out of bounds. Then Howard got the deep three to tie it."
Fulton held the ball for a final shot but wound up losing possession in the final seconds. The Steamers had scored first in overtime on a basket by Barber. A free throw by Ames pulled the Prophets within 46-45, but Dail gave Fulton a three-point lead with a pair of free throws.
The Steamers needed a furious fourth quarter comeback just to force overtime.
"It was a nice comeback at the end; unfortunately for three quarters we didn't play very smart," Coffey said. "But the guys never gave up."
A 3-point basket by Dail accounted for the only points either team scored in the first quarter.
"We were settling too much for threes," Coffey said. "We were not penetrating and kicking. They played a 3-2 zone with the top three extended on the perimeter."
The Prophets made three 3-pointers in the second quarter — two by Howard — but Huebner countered with seven points for Fulton as the teams wound up the half tied 11-11.
The third quarter went back and forth until the final minute. A basket by Howard put the Prophets ahead 22-20, Cady added another basket, then Chris Bauer closed the quarter with a three-point play for a 27-20 lead with 2.7 seconds remaining.
Ames opened the fourth quarter with another score to make it 29-20, and the Prophets eventually pushed the lead to 10, 36-26, on a free throw by Cady.
Fulton started its comeback after trailing 40-29 midway through the final period. A 3-point basket by Barber — his first points of the night — brought Fulton within 40-32. The Steamers kept whittling away and got within 42-39 on a three-point play by Dail with 56 seconds left in regulation.
Howard made two free throws for Prophetstown, but Dail hit a long 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 44-42. Barber tied it with a pair of free throws after teammate Devin Kuehl went out with an injury to finish the fourth-quarter scoring. Coffey said Kuehl injured his wrist and went to the hospital to have it checked out.
PROPHETSTOWN 61, FULTON 51 (2 OT)
FULTON (13-5, 3-2) — Matt Dail 4 6-7 15, Kody Crosthwaite 0 0-0 0, Seth Sanderson 0 4-4 4, Jason Osborn 0 0-0 0, Brevin Mason 0 0-0 0, Devin Kuehl 0 4-4 4, Zach Barber 3 2-3 9, Kyle Huebner 4 4-4 14, Paul Velasco 0 0-0 0, Jake Willging 2 1-2 5. Totals 13 21-23 51.
PROPHETSTOWN — Grant Ames 4 11-12 20, Ethan Howard 7 7-9 24, Seth Cady 2 2-3 6, Daniel Shirley 1 0-0 3, Chris Bauer 1 2-3 4, Josh Paul 0 0-0 0, Austin Gerlach 0 3-6 3, Josh Sigel 0 1-2 1. Totals 15 26-35 61.
Fulton 3 8 9 24 (4) (3) — 51
Prophetstown 0 11 16 17 (4) (13) — 61
3-point goals — Fulton 4 (Huebner 2, Dail, Barber); Prophetstown 5 (Howard 3, Ames, Shirley). Total fouls — Fulton 29, Prophetstown 22. Fouled out — Sanderson, Osborn, Huebner, Bauer.