Burrell survives Ford City in 4OT

| Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, 11:51 p.m.

Burrell kept its WPIAL playoff hopes alive with a marathon, four-overtime victory over Ford City, 66-62, on Friday night.

Sophomore Lucas Cable's two free throws with 1:16 left in the fourth OT gave the Bucs the lead for good. Freshman Max Garda hit two free throws, the final one coming with 8.5 seconds to go, to provide the final margin.

“We talked before the game about playing in the present,” Burrell coach Shawn Bennis said. “We're young, we make a lot of mistakes and they get down on themselves. They have to forget about the last play. They really took the good with the bad and outlasted them.”

The game is believed to be tied for the second-longest game in A-K Valley history.

The Valley girls beat North Hills in five overtimes in 1981. The Valley boys defeated Highlands, 61-54, in four overtimes Dec. 9, 1989.

The victory puts Burrell (5-12, 3-5) in the driver's seat for the fourth and final playoff berth from Section 1-AA. The Bucs were a WPIAL finalist last season.

Ford City (5-12, 2-6), which beat Burrell in the first meeting, clinches with wins in its final two section games combined with at least one Burrell loss.

Ford City's Cody Peppler was the only senior among the 10 players on the floor at the end of the game, because of a combination of players fouling out and injuries.

“It was very frustrating out there,” Cable said. “But we had to pull through the adversity as a team. It's all about the we, not the me.”

Burrell erased a five-point deficit in the final 37 seconds of regulation. Joey Cox's 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter tied the score at 43-43 and sent it into its first overtime.

The score was 49-49 after the first overtime, 52-52 after the second overtime and 58-58 after the third overtime.

Sabers coach Greg Hutcherson thought Garda was the difference in the game.

“Being a freshman, he showed great poise down the stretch in a tough situation,” Hutcherson said. “Four OTs, this was a fun game. We had three guys foul out and one on the bench with an injury. You basically have to outlast your opponent.”

Garda had 20 points and seven steals to lead the Bucs. Brendan Lettrich added 18 points, five steals and four assists.

Sophomore Brandon Hileman had 22 points and 22 rebounds for Ford City.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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