CHARLEROI – In a game fitting of a first-place showdown in Class 3A Section 4 boys basketball, Washington downed Charleroi Friday night in double overtime, 52-51.
“This section is going to come down to winning games on the road and it is a gaggle,” said Washington coach Ron Faust of how tight it is. “This was an extremely big win and hopefully we will learn some things from it and benefit from it.
“Both teams played hard and whoever lost, it was going to be unfortunate for them, and we were lucky enough to win.”
Charleroi coach Bill Wiltz liked his team controlling the pace of the game.
“We were deliberate as heck and I appreciate the kids doing that,” he said. “They maintained our plan, some shots fell, some didn’t and if another one falls, then we don’t have to worry about the final five seconds.”
With the showdown tied at 51-51 in the second overtime and Washington (6-1, 7-6) maintaining possession of the basketball, Faust called timeout with 27 seconds left.
The Prexies inbounded the ball and worked the clock down.
The ball was knocked loose and a scramble for the ball ensued near the midcourt line.
Washington’s Brandon Patterson grabbed the ball and heaved up a desperation three-pointer from two steps inside midcourt. Charleroi’s Joe Caruso was called for a foul on the shot, with 1.7 seconds left, sending Patterson to the free-throw line.
The freshman made the first attempt to give the Prexies the winning point, but he missed the second and third free throws.
On the last free throw attempt, Charleroi (5-2, 8-7) rebounded the miss and called a timeout with only 0.6 seconds left.
After the timeout, Legend Davis threw the ball towards the Charleroi basket and Caruso, along with Washington’s Joe Mercer, made a play on the it just outside the lane.
Contact was made. No foul was called as both players ended up on the floor and the clock ran out to preserve the win for Washington.
“The difference in the game was who had the ball last,” Faust said. “The way it ended up, we were fortunate enough and, interestingly, the ball was in the hands of a freshman. He did the right thing and put the ball up.”
Wiltz was not happy with the foul call and then a no-call that followed at the other end of the court.
“That last five seconds were ridiculous and to get a call on a three-point prayer is…,” he said before trailing off and taking several deep breaths to gather his composure. “It blows my mind that the official would determine the outcome of this game.
“And then at the end, we have people scrambling and bodies flying all over the place and they won’t blow the whistle.”
The first half was played at a methodical pace with neither team leading by more than four points. Despite playing earlier this year, both teams seemed to be in more of a feeling out process than using an attacking style.
Neither team scored until the 5:24 mark of the quarter when Charleroi’s Legend Davis scored off of an assist from Lee Zanardini, and the points were hard to come by.
The teams combined for nine first quarter turnovers, and the game was tied 9-9 headed into the second.
Zach Usher’s third three-pointer of the second quarter gave the Cougars an 18-14 lead with 3:01 to go in the half, but Washington held the Cougars scoreless the rest of the frame and Dan Ethridge hit a pair of baskets in the last 90 seconds of the half to tie the game at 18-18 entering the intermission.
“Zach is only a sophomore and is getting better every single game,” Wiltz said. “He was really down on himself after having three traveling calls in the opening two minutes. We had to pull him over to settle him down and he didn’t turn it over again.”
The offense picked up in the third quarter as the Prexies outscored the Cougars, 18-15, to take a 36-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
Washington’s biggest lead in the game was 28-21, but Usher converted a four-point play with 2:36 to go in the third.
Charleroi outscored Washington 10-7 in the fourth to send the game into overtime, but not before the Prexies had one last chance to win the game in overtime.
Charleroi had possession and was working the clock down, but it turned the ball over and the Prexies took possession after a timeout under the Charleroi basket with :05 left in regulation.
The ball was inbounded to Zahmere Robinson and the junior raced towards the basket but his shot at the buzzer bounced off the left side of the rim and the game went into overtime.
In the first OT, Washington scored the first four points of the period but Charleroi scored the last four and had a chance to win. Davis made a move toward the hoop in the closing seconds and put up a shot, but it rimmed out at the buzzer.
Patterson finished with 14 points for Washington while Isaiah Edwards added 13.
Usher finished with 19 points and Zanardini finished with 12 while Davis grabbed 12 rebounds.