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Johnson's jumper trips Ponies
Monticellos Lukas Kolasch drives to the basket against Barneveld defender Cody Carmody in the first quarter of the Ponies 51-49 overtime loss to the Eagles Thursday.
MONTICELLO - Despite playing without a starter, the Ponies found a way to stay with Barneveld to the end. However, the Eagles' Logan Johnson made the final play in a game that could have been acted out of a screenplay.

"They have no idea how proud I am," Monticello head coach Mark Olson said after his team fell in overtime, 51-49. "You're down one of our starters, you're down 11 points with about two minutes left - that's unbelievable heart. My heart aches for them."

Johnson, the Six Rivers East's leading scorer, hit a 17-foot jump shot in front of a capacity crowd as time expired in overtime, putting Barneveld in a two-way tie with Monticello for the conference lead. The shot erased an epic comeback by the Ponies, which outscored the Eagles 11-0 in the final 2 minutes, 10 seconds of the fourth quarter to send the game into the extra frame.

"Logan Johnson, holy crap is he a good player. He's the best player I've ever played against," said Corey McGowan, who hit three 3-pointers in those final two minutes to tie the game. "Barneveld is a great team. We respect them, they respect us. If there was anyone I'd want to share the conference title with, it would be Logan Johnson and Barneveld."

Monticello entered the fourth quarter trailing 41-33 and Barneveld's Josh Slaney hit a shot in the paint to make it a 10-point game. McGowan, who had 21 points and five 3s in the game, hit the first of four fourth-quarter triples with 3:33 remaining.

"Corey's taken the assignment of guarding the other team's best player, working hard on defense and getting rebounds. We all know Corey can (score like) that, but that hasn't been his role this year," Olson said. "To be honest, down a guy tonight, I completely expected it."

Johnson answered by scoring while getting fouled in the paint off of an inbounds pass, and then hit the free throw. Slaney added another free throw with 2:26 left for the Eagles' final score of regulation.

"I knew we could do it. I have faith in my team. It was same thing as last year, we were down nine with under 2 minutes, came back and won the game. Anything can happen. It's a tough league to win," McGowan said.

From there, it was the Corey McGowan show. He hit a wide open 3 with 2:10 left, then after a turnover drained another off of a pass by Tyler Meier. Meier, who assisted three McGowan 3s in the fourth, then hit a pair of free throws with 33.2 seconds remaining.

"There were a few times where I just dribbled and found him open in the corner. He hit a lot of big shots for us tonight. He definitely had the hot hand," Meier said. "(Corey's) been waiting for that night to get hot and he did it on the right night."

After a timeout, the Ponies' pressure forced another turnover, and Meier again found McGowan for a 3 with 15 seconds remaining to tie the game at 47. Barneveld's desperation 3 from the top of the key went wide.

"With the position we were in, we knew we could turn the pressure up. We made some plays and got back into the game," Olson said. Monticello forced Barneveld into five turnovers in the final 3 minutes of regulation. The Ponies also had 10 total steals to the Eagles' one.

In the overtime, Johnson was kept away from the Eagles' offense in two of the three possessions. Slaney scored down low to put Barneveld up a hoop with 1:36 left, but Michael Elzen found a flashing McGowan to tie it back up. Johnson then missed a shot with 11 seconds left and Barneveld center Jacob Erfurth missed the putback. The Eagles were called for a traveling violation in a scrum under the hoop, giving the Ponies one last shot with 6.8 left.

"I've never been so proud of a team. The perseverance of our team is just amazing to see," Meier said. "Barneveld is a heck of a team, but we definitely missed (Jacob) Marty. He definitely brings a different aspect to our team."

Fill-in starter Chris Voegeli, subbing for injured shooter Marty who was out with a knee injury, was called for a double dribble with 4.4 left at midcourt to set up Johnson's heroics.

"Chris has come a long way this year. He scraps, he gets loose balls and in the last three minutes of regulation, he was all over the place making plays. We don't get back in this game without Chris," Olson said.

Barneveld (15-4, 9-1), ranked 12th in the state in the Coaches Poll, is now neck-and-neck with the Ponies (16-3, 10-1) for the conference title. Monticello plays Pecatonica (10-9, 5-4) Feb. 26, and a win would clinch a share of the championship. Barneveld still has to go through Black Hawk (7-12, 3-6) Feb. 23, and Albany (7-13, 4-6) Feb. 26.

"We can't hang our heads on this. We have Pec next week. You can guarantee we are going to come back to practice tomorrow and work," McGowan said.

Monticello jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first, but the Eagles pulled it to 15-12 by the second quarter. At halftime, Barneveld led 22-21 thanks to a 10-0 run.