Sometimes it's not what plays you make, but when you make them.
The Charger men's basketball team played huge in the game's final two minutes, digging out from a nine-point halftime deficit to top Ashland University 64-61 Saturday afternoon in Ashland's Kates Gymnasium.
Hillsdale is now 16-7 overall and 12-7 in the GLIAC, and maintains a one-game lead for third place in the South Division over Thursday's opponent, Malone.
The Eagles, buoyed by 50 percent 3-point shooting in the game (10-for-20), held a 61-59lead with 1:32 to play in the game when Hillsdale senior guard Brandon Pritzl was fouled. He made the first free throw, slicing the deficit to one. But he missed the second foul shot, only to have it corralled by Charger senior forward Tim Dezelski, who converted the miss into a made layup, suddenly putting Hillsdale back in the lead, 62-61.
The Charger defense forced Ashland to miss its final three shots of the game. The third of those came with eight seconds left, and a mad scramble for the loose ball ensued. Junior guard Cody Smith won the loose ball battle, was fouled, and made two big-time free throws to make it a three-point lead with 2.5 seconds left in the game.
Ashland was unable to generate a shot on its last possession, helping to seal the win for the Chargers.
The Eagles led the game 49-40 with 12:46 left in the second half after they had a four-point play on one possession. But the Chargers saved themselves by immediately answering back with a 10-2 run over the next four minutes that turned it into a one-point game. Ashland was resilient, taking leads of three and four points over the next couple minutes, but each shot was answered by Hillsdale, once on a 3-pointer from senior Anthony Manno, and on two nifty baskets by sophomore Kyle Cooper, to keep the Chargers within striking distance.
Hillsdale's clutch play and experience also showed at the free throw line, where it went 15-for-17 for the game.
Dezelski had another magnificent game, leading all players with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 8-for-15 shooting from the field. Cooper finished with 13, while Manno scored 12 and Pritzl added 10 points for the winning team.
For the season, Dezelski now has 199 field goals made, which puts him in eighth place on the school's single-season top 10 list in that category. It's the most field goals made by any player in the Charger program in 29 years.