DEFIANCE, Ohio – Ryan Hicks led the Yellow Jackets on his senior day and pushed Defiance past Franklin 73-71 to secure a share of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Regular Season Championship.
Before the game, Hicks (Port Clinton, Ohio / Port Clinton) was honored for his four years with the Purple and Gold, he scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Yellow Jackets (20-5, 15-3 HCAC) defeat the Grizzlies (10-15, 7-11 HCAC) in the regular season finale.
Hicks led the Yellow Jackets with 11 points in the second half and his jumper with 24 seconds left in the game helped to secure the win for Defiance. With the win, the Yellow Jackets earned a share of the conference title with Rose-Hulman.
Bernard Edwards (Detroit, Mich. / Warren Cousino) led the Yellow Jackets with 18 points in the contest, which was the sixth straight victory for Defiance this season and the sixth straight year that DC closed out the regular season with a win over Franklin.
Edwards helped Defiance climb out of an early deficit with 13 of his points in the first half. After Franklin raced out to an 11-4 lead, the Yellow jackets slowly worked their way back and Edwards sunk two free throws to tie the game at 16 before his layup gave DC its first lead of the game at 25-24.
The Yellow Jackets were able to keep that lead and carry a 33-30 lead into the break.
The competitive play between the two teams continued into the second half, as for the first ten minutes, the teams were never more than three points away from each other.
The Yellow Jackets then started to open things up starting with back to back layups from Edwards and Hicks. With the two buckets, DC put together a 16-4 run over the next four minutes and 27 seconds. The run included six points from Hicks, four from Kent Tietje (Deshler, Ohio / Patrick Henry) and two points apiece from Edwards, Noah Reed (Huntington, Ind. / Huntington North), and Mason Roth (McComb, Ohio / McComb).
At the 6:10 mark, DC held a 63-51 advantage after a pair of free throws from Reed.
The Grizzlies had one last push in them, cutting the lead to as little as one in the closing minutes of the game. From the fury of Terry Sargent and Troy Porter, Franklin was able to get a shot for the win at the buzzer that rattled out.
Sargent led all scorers with 31 and Porter added 25. Franklin's leading scorer, Bailey Howard, came into the game averaging 20.2 points a game. But, just as he has all season, Travis Schomaeker's (Ottawa, Ohio / Ottawa-Glandorf) great defense held the HCAC's second-leading scoring to just eight points.
Roth joined Edwards and Hicks in double figures with 11 points. Wade Wooley (Wauseon, Ohio / Wauseon) added eight points and 12 rebounds.
Hicks' nine rebounds brought him one shy of 500 for his career and on the cusp of elite company in Defiance history. Hicks would become just the third Yellow Jacket in school history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 75 blocks and 75 steals. Hicks has already set two of those milestones this season at Rose-Hulman, the host of the HCAC Tournament next week. He got his 1,000th point and his 75th steal against Rose on February 1.
DC awaits the winner of third ranked Hanover and sixth ranked Franklin for a semi-finals match up in the HCAC tournament. The game will be played at Rose-Hulman on Friday, February 28 at 6 p.m.