Hoover trips No. 2 Poca in OT
FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Much of the game resembled peach baskets and Dr. James Naismith. But down the stretch, it was SportsCenter highlight-reel stuff.
Herbert Hoover's Sam Schoolcraft corralled a loose ball and fed Joey Forbes for a layup at the buzzer Friday night to give the Huskies an improbable 46-45 overtime victory over No. 2 Poca, capping a wild senior night.
The Dots (15-4), ranked second in Class AA, led almost the entire way in the low-scoring game and held an eight-point lead with 74 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Hoover, however, forced OT after Cody Morris put on a late 3-point shooting show and Aaron Burdette nailed a pair of clutch free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation.
"This team has been in these situations before,'' said Morris, who led the Huskies with 23 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. "Every game this season's been like this. Usually we find a way to lose, but tonight we came through and found a way to win.''
Morris knocked down three straight 3s with defenders draped all over him in the final 1:10 - the last one knotting the score at 38 with 28 seconds to go, prompting Poca coach Allen Osborne to hurl his clipboard to the floor in disgust.
But Hoover (13-7) committed an ill-advised foul moments later and Cameron Cottrill hit two free throws to put Poca back up 40-38 with 22 seconds left.
With the Dots defense swarming all over the 6-foot-6 Morris, Josh Blackwell was forced to drive the ball to the basket as time trickled down in the fourth quarter and missed a running shot. Burdette was fouled getting the rebound and went to the line for two shots with less than one second remaining.
Burdette was true on both attempts, even with a Poca timeout wedged in between his shots, leading to overtime.
In OT, a Matt Chandler driving basket gave the Dots a 45-42 edge in the closing stages, but Forbes answered with a low post move and Hoover cut the deficit back to one with 1:00 left.
Chandler was fouled with 40 seconds to go and missed both attempts, but the Huskies appeared to have nothing going on offense and coach Jeff Gandee called a hasty timeout with 8.1 seconds on the clock, trailing 45-44.
The ball was inbounded to Blackwell, who tried to get it into the hands of Morris at the top of the key. But in heavy traffic, the ball was knocked loose and sent bounding into the foul lane. Schoolcraft picked it up, darted to the basket and seemed ready to put up a shot. But at the last moment, he dropped it off to Forbes for an uncontested layup as time expired.
"I grabbed the ball and the lane just opened,'' Schoolcraft said. "I guess everybody went to their man and the lane opened, and I took it. There was just a little bit of time left and when I drove, both Joey's man and the other man who was in the lane dropped down on me, so I just dropped it off to Joey - a wide-open layup.
"There was too much adrenalin [to shoot it]. I knew I didn't want to . . . there's a better chance of me giving it off to Joey with no people on him and two people on me.''
The buzzer-beating heroics marked Hoover's first lead since 5-4 at the end of one quarter. Poca led at the half by a mere 15-13 count as defenses (and cold shooting) prevailed.
For Poca, the ending was eerie déjà vu. In its previous game, a 45-43 loss at Nitro on Tuesday, freshman Trevon Taylor scooped up a loose ball and hit a turnaround shot at the horn for the Wildcats.
"Give Cody Morris credit,'' Osborne said. "He made some tough shots when we were guarding him really well. We made a couple mental mistakes that I've got to take responsibility for. I've got to coach our players better so they don't make mistakes. It's my fault.
"That's two tough losses this week. It's disappointing, because our kids worked hard and played hard.''
Forbes, who hit his final six shots and scored 13 points for Hoover, was a prime option on the final play, Gandee said.
"We wanted to go pick and pop with [Morris],'' Gandee said, "and if he had the double team, we wanted to swing it. Fortunately, it got there anyway through the double team . . .
"Joey Forbes was set on the low block by design because if we do penetrate, they've got to take the shooter, and that opened up the opportunity and Sam made a great play - a fundamental play, a good decision. He saw that boy drew up to him, bounce pass and Joey got it in the hole just in time. It was pretty much the way we drew it up, except the ball got loose and we ended up with it.''
Gandee admitted to a certain degree of desperation as the fourth quarter played out and his team trailed by as many as nine, especially with points at a premium.
"We had to change our offensive strategy,'' Gandee said, "to start shooting 3s, which is not our normal game. Fortunately, Cody was able to hit three in a row, and they were tough shots. They obviously weren't expecting that.''
The win was important for Hoover, which is still alive to secure a home game in the upcoming sectionals. If Nicholas County loses either at Sissonville Tuesday or at home against Clay County on Thursday, the Huskies get the No. 2 seed behind Poca.
Noah Frampton headed the Dots with 16 points and seven rebounds. Cottrill added 15 points and seven boards as Poca led 33-30 off the glass.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.