BARBERTON — Trailing by 13, the members of the Aurora boys basketball team had a little talk during a timeout.

Perhaps the Greenmen were moody and disillusioned.

Or maybe they turned their attention toward the following week and decided to put this one on the shelf.

As it turned out, the Aurora players had no so such conversations. In fact, they treated the situation as if they were lying on a beach.

“They just said, ‘We’re fine,’” Greenmen second-year head coach T.J. Henderson said. “They were talking in the huddle, getting after it and saying, ‘Let’s go,’ ‘Move the ball’ and ‘We’re fine.’”

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

It looks like they knew something just about everyone else didn’t.

That’s because Aurora earned its third win in four games.

The Greenmen improved to 9-7 overall and 5-4 in the Suburban League American Conference after posting a thrilling 81-78 victory over host Barberton in overtime Friday at Jack Greynolds Floor.

The Magics, who have suffered their share of heartbreaking defeats this winter, dropped to 5-11 overall and 3-6 in the conference.

It seemed like Aurora found itself trying to climb out of a rather formidable ravine throughout the evening.

Fortunately for the Greenmen, they had Justin Gentile on their side.

The standout senior guard has been a reliable weapon throughout the season as the team’s sixth man.

On this night, Gentile had a hand in just about every critical play down the stretch.

Of course, Barberton’s inability to close out the contest played a crucial role in Gentile’s mission to prove his team had more than nine lives.

If the Magics made a few more free throws, Gentile’s role as West Pioneer Trail’s audacious hero would have never occurred.

It started when Barberton split a pair of foul shots to take a 68-64 lead with less than 20 seconds remaining. Not long after the the second freebie found the rim, the ball landed in Gentile’s hands.

Knowing the clock was ticking madly against him, Gentile pushed the ball rapidly as if being chased by a voracious wild animal.

Gentile got it past half court and then fired a pass to Gabe Elsawy, a sophomore guard who received his license to fire away since birth.

Elsawy, who lurked in the left corner, caught Gentile’s perfect pass and then launched a jumper from beyond the 3-point arc that found nothing but net.

That basket cut the Magics’ advantage to one (68-67) with less than 15 seconds left.

“That was a huge, great pass,” Henderson said. “If we were down four, we had to get a three. We did exactly what we needed to do: drive, draw the defense, kick it, hit him and then try to get a steal.”

Aurora couldn’t quite pull off the last part of Henderson’s thorough strategy. The Greenmen nearly got a steal, but when the ball landed out of bounds, they were forced to foul.

Again, Barberton could not deliver the crushing blow.

The Magics split a pair of foul shots and Gentile had another opportunity to put on his cape.

As the clock ticked down to the final seconds, Gentile drove toward his left and then unleashed a soft rainbow jumper over a taller defender. Amazingly, it swished through the nylon to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 69.

“I was going to pull for three, but I heard my coach tell me to drive,” Gentile said. “I drove and I somehow got it off in the corner.”

Gentile continued to haunt Barberton in the extra session.

He scored a left-handed layup off the dribble to give Aurora the lead for good (74-73) and then increased his team’s advantage to three with a jumper on the following possession.

Gentile finished with 17 points.

“Justin stepped up big time for us,” Henderson said.

The Magics, on the other hand, couldn’t buy a break during the overtime period.

Trailing by five (78-73), Barberton had a 3-point attempt by guard Jamair Blackmon go in and out.

Thanks to these backbreaking misfires by the Magics, the Greenmen sealed the deal with, appropriately enough, accuracy from the charity stripe. Aurora made three of its last four foul shots to ice it.

“The kids didn’t give up on each other,” Henderson said. “We kept fighting and came out with a nice win.”

While Gentile made several clutch plays when it was needed most, the Greenmen got another well, “magical” performance from Ethan Hays.

The junior guard/forward scored 12 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter.

Those points proved to be significant since Aurora found itself down 50-37 late in the period. The Greenmen, thanks to Hays’ persistence to go into full-fledged attack mode, gained some much-needed momentum in the final minutes of the quarter to cut their margin to four (53-49).

Much like Aurora, a large chunk of Barberton’s offense also featured limited participants.

The Magics got 57 points from three players. Blackmon led the way with 21 points and gifted guard Jordan Soyars, who gave the Greenmen fits with his ability to beat defenders regularly with his speed and clever ball fakes, contributed 19 points.

Guard Max Littlejohn was Barberton’s long-distance assassin as he buried five 3-pointers on his way to 17 points.

In the end, though, Aurora walked away smiling from this exhausting contest that turned into a survival of the fittest.

Yes, the Greenmen like to play an entertaining style that features plenty of high-speed theatrics.

On Friday, they proved they could be master laborers as well.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Henderson said. “It was a fantastic grind-out win.”

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_RPC.