EBENSBURG, Pa. – In a game that it was almost unfair that someone had to lose, Homer-Center outscored Ridgway 6-4 in the fourth overtime to eek out a 60-58 win in the opening round of the PIAA Class A boys’ basketball playoffs Friday night at Central Cambria High School.
In a tight game throughout, the teams were tied at 39 at the end of regulation, 44 at the end of both the first and second overtimes and 54 at the end of the third overtime.
Ridgway (23-5) led 58-57 with under a minute to play in the fourth overtime when John Ireland hit a basket to put the Wildcats up for good, 59-58, with 53.4 seconds left. Homer-Center then hit a free throw before a last-second shot by Ridgway was off the mark.
Poor free-throw shooting by the Elkers in the third overtime allowed Homer-Center (26-0) to force a fourth extra session after Ridgway had taken a 50-46 lead.
With the lead still at three, 52-49, with under 45 seconds to go in the third extra session, Ridgway was at the line shooting two. But the Elkers only made one of the two shots to push the lead to 53-49.
Ireland then hit a 3-pointer with 26.1 left to cut the deficit to one, 52-51.
Then Justin Kasmierski hit only one of two free throws to get the lead to two, 53-51, but Homer-Center tied the game with a layup with 4.8 left to force the fourth overtime.
Neither team scored in the second overtime thanks in part to Ridgway’s decision to hold the ball for the final 2:10 of the overtime before missing a final shot at the horn.
Ridgway trailed by four, 43-39, with 48 seconds left in overtime No. 1 before a Jeremy Breier 3-pointer cut the lead to one, 43-42, with 27.3 seconds left.
Homer-Center then hit a free throw to make it 44-42, but Andy Breier forced a second overtime with a field goal with four seconds left to tie the game at 44.
It was the Wildcats who missed a chance to win at the end of regulation.
With the game tied at 39, Homer-Center ran the clock down to 13.3 seconds and called timeout to try for a final shot.
But after what was described as a crazy sequence on Twitter by Ridgway Record Sports Reporter Greg Reedy, Ridgway ended up with the ball with 1.4 seconds to play. The Elkers tried a last second desperation shot that was off the mark.
Ridgway had tried to hold for the final shot in regulation originally but turned the ball over on double dribble with 50 seconds left.
Jeremy Breier, playing in his final high school game, went off for a game-high 33 points for the Elkers. He was the only Ridgway player in double digits. Neil MacDonald and Kasmierski each had eight points.
Ireland led Homer-Center with 23 points. Ben Wolford added 18 and Nick Arone 12.
Homer-Center will now take on Sewickley Academy in the second round Tuesday.
NOTES – This was the fifth multiple overtime PIAA playoff game involving a District 9 boys’ team since the early 1970s, and D9 is 0-5 in those games. The other four were all double overtime contest. In 1993, Girard beat Brockway, 57-54, in the Class AA first round. In 2002, Conemaugh Township beat Keystone 58-56 in the second round of the Class A bracket. In 2012, West Middlesex beat Johnsonburg, 50-45, in the second round of the Class A playoff. And in 2014, Mercyhurst Prep knocked off Brookville, 78-70, in the first round of the Class AA bracket.
HOMER-CENTER 60, RIDGWAY 58
Score by Quarters
Ridgway 5 16 10 8 5 0 10 4 – 58
Homer-Center 7 12 10 10 5 0 10 6 – 60
Ridgway – 58
Jeremy Breier 13 5-8 33, Neil MacDonald 1 6-6 8, Justin Kasmierski 3 2-5 8, Andy Breier 3 0-0 6, Johnny Mitchell 1 0-0 2, Aaron Shilk 0 1-2 1, Totals 21 14-21 58.
Homer-Center – 60
John Ireland 9 3-4 23, Ben Wolford 6 6-14 18, Nick Arone 4 4-6 12, Tanner Yancy 1 2-2 4, John Capitosti 0 3-4 3, Totals 20 18-30 60.
THREE-POINTERS: Ridgway 2 (J. Breier 2), Homer-Center 2 (Ireland 2).