South Park boys outlast Steel Valley in double OT
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Down by four points with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first overtime against South Park, Shawn McCallister took a long look down the Steel Valley bench to find someone to spark his team Friday night.
Not only had guard Dorian Broadwater fouled out, but the team's leading scorer, Ajan Smith, was in the midst of a rough shooting night thanks in large part to a stifling Eagles defense that keyed on him every time he touched the ball.
McCallister turned to sophomore Brandon Donavon, who hit a clutch 3-pointer the first time he touched the ball and helped send the game into a second overtime.
Unfortunately for Steel Valley (12-9), it couldn't do much with the extra period, as South Park (13-9) converted 11 of 14 from the line to pull out a 67-60 double-overtime victory in the preliminary round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at Peters Township.
“I'm proud of the effort these guys had, but we had a horrible shooting night, and it was tough for us to go in that direction,” McCallister said. “There was no quit in them, and I'm very proud of how our young kids came out and shot the ball with confidence. But we just didn't get enough scoring out of it.”
Smith was only 2 of 16 from the field and finished with seven points, but he hit a free throw with 14.4 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game, 45-45, and send it to overtime. He also hit a basket 10 seconds into the first extra period to give the Ironmen their only lead in either overtime before he fouled out with 16.4 seconds left in the first OT.
“Our goal was to put five people on one side of the floor because we were not going to let him drive the ball to the rim,” South Park coach Will Saunders said. “We sacrificed some stuff on the weak side of the floor if they skipped it, and it hurt us because they got some offensive rebound tip-ins. And though we missed some opportunities on the defensive glass, we wanted 10 eyes on him every time he touched the ball.”
Dominique Keyes took advantage of the backside lapses to score 13 points and grab 16 rebounds. Guard Derek Taylor scored a team-high 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter and overtime, off the bench.
South Park was led by Ryan Smider, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds before he fouled out with 1:28 left in the first overtime.
South Park, which sat all of its senior starters the first four minutes of the game because of a disciplinary issue, had ample opportunities to put the game away in regulation, but leading 45-44, the Eagles missed the front ends of three 1-and-1s in the final minute, which allowed Smith to hit the tying free throw.
“Our guys were down,” Saunders said. “When they missed those three 1-and-1s, they felt like they lost and we had to get them going a little bit, like the first minute or so of overtime, to really get them back to realizing that we were still playing basketball.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.
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