It took four quarters and three overtimes for the Archie Whirlwinds to finally defeat the Crest Ridge Cougars.
Even before the game began, a 55-49 win at Archie, the Whirlwinds were at a disadvantage.
“During warm-ups our point guard rolled his ankle,” head coach Preston Shipley said after the game. “Boston Dickerson is our leading scorer, ball-handler, and leader on the court averaging sixteen points a game. When he went down we changed our strategy. At that point we wanted to be methodical.”
Junior Toby Gibson stepped in for Dickerson and led Archie to a halftime lead of 18-9.
“The thing about Toby is, he does everything,” Shipley said. “What he does on defense I can’t talk enough about. It’s just such a complicated role to defend a post player in the paint; then switch to defending a quick point guard. Offensively he also stepped up and handled the ball well.”
After the half, the Cougars’ improved shooting whittled away at the Whirlwinds’ nine point lead, and by the end of the third quarter Crest Ridge sliced the Archie nine point lead by five to 21-17.
The Whirlwinds responded in the fourth quarter by extending their lead back to nine points with 2:15 to play. Archie seemed to have the game in hand until the Cougars finished the last two minutes with a 10-1 run, forcing the game into overtime with the score 30-30.
During the first overtime, both teams reverted to the deliberate playing style of the first half. Each team scored four points ending the first overtime at 35 points each.
Crest Ridge and Archie battled bucket for bucket for the first two minutes in the second overtime until the Cougars surged to a 47-42 lead with 20 seconds left in the game.
Archie was down, but not out. Gibson responded by sinking a three pointer with ten seconds remaining, leaving the Whirlwinds down by two. On Crest Ridge’s next possession Gibson fouled the Cougars’ Noah McCune, stopping the clock with four seconds remaining. McCune made one of two free throws, extending the Crest Ridge back to three.
The Whirlwinds needed a miracle to keep the game alive and got it from freshman Kale Wheeler. Kale hit a three point shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 47.
“Kale’s three pointer was something. I thought the game was over. That’s a big moment for him to catch that ball and shoot it,” Shipley said.
It was also the turning point in the game. Archie, energized by Wheeler’s game saving shot, came to life. Senior post Ceasar Swigart took control of the boards, and the overtime, by scoring seven of the Whirlwinds’ final nine points to secure the victory.
“Ceasar had never touched a basketball until eighth grade,” Shipley said. “He has progressed more than any other player I have ever coached. At 6-5, we consciously get the ball to him because he is a game changer.”