BIG HORN — The Big Horn boys basketball team trailed twice with no time on the clock, yet the Rams managed to take home a win Saturday. Big Horn defeated Southeast 61-59 in a double overtime game full of comebacks, buzzer beaters and a preposterous amount of fouls.
In their final game of the North-South Challenge, the Rams needed a 3-pointer from Will Pelissier as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime, a free throw from Carson Bates with no time remaining to force the second overtime and 31 free-throw attempts to secure the victory.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached in a double overtime,” Big Horn head coach Ryan Alley said. “I’ve had some pretty exciting games like that before, but not like this one where there were two buzzer beaters.”
After jumping out to a 9-2 lead, Big Horn only managed six points in the next 12 minutes of the first half, including a second-quarter drought that lasted nearly six minutes.
Big Horn trailed 21-15 at halftime but came out stronger in the third quarter. A 3-pointer from Kade VanDyken got the Rams within two points, 25-23, with 2:40 left in the third. The team didn’t score for the rest of the quarter, and the Cyclones went on a 7-0 run to take a 32-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
Momentum changed for the Rams in the fourth as they started attacking the rim and playing more aggressively on defense. Kade Eisele got a steal to open the quarter and converted his subsequent free throws. Less than a minute later, Bates drove and got an and-1, then followed with a strong post move to bring the score to 38-32.
However, the Rams were overeager on defense and Southeast was in the double bonus with five minutes left in the fourth. All 16 of the Cyclones’ fourth-quarter points came at the free-throw line.
After Big Horn cut the deficit to one, the Cyclones hit three free throws to go up 47-43 with 25 seconds left. A VanDyken layup and another Southeast free throw made it 48-45 with 14 seconds left.
Alley called a timeout with 5.8 seconds left and drew up a play to get McCafferty an open 3-point look from the wing, but it bounced off the rim. Pelissier grabbed the long rebound, took two dribbles back to the top of the key and launched a turnaround 3. Swish.
Pelissier picked the right time to score his only three points of the game.
“He does that all the time,” McCafferty joked. “It’s no big deal for him, that’s just what he does.”
After brief pandemonium, the teams returned to the floor for four minutes of overtime action. Big Horn continued to send Southeast to the free-throw line. Jaxon Parker fouled out 22 seconds into overtime, and the Cyclones soon took a 51-48 lead after the fourth foul on VanDyken.
More than one-third of the game’s total points came from free throws. Big Horn committed 33 fouls on the afternoon, compared to 27 by Southeast. The Rams hit 17 of their 31 free throw attempts, while the Cyclones scored 22 consecutive points on free throws at one point, finishing 27 for 46 from the charity stripe.
“That wasn’t by design, but it worked out in the end,” McCafferty said.
Pelissier and VanDylen both fouled out in the final 1:35 of overtime, leaving Big Horn with only five eligible players.
Fortunately for the Rams, Southeast missed two late free throws, giving Big Horn a chance down one with 21 seconds left. McCafferty drove to the bucket but couldn’t convert a contested layup. The ball bounced out of bounds off Southeast with 1.5 seconds left. Bates received the inbounds pass from McCafferty near the free-throw line, rose for a jumper and got fouled at the buzzer.
With no time remaining, Bates stepped up to the line as the other nine players watched at half court. He missed the first shot off the right side of the rim, putting all the pressure on his next attempt. Bates nailed it, pumping his fist after seeing the ball go through the net to force the second overtime.
McCafferty and Bates both played nearly the whole game and had four fouls the entire second overtime, but the two underclassmen continued to attack. Bates said the constant stoppages in play to shoot free throws helped him have enough energy toward the end of the game.
In the second overtime, McCafferty grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and was fouled, sending him to the line for the first time. He cooly hit both shots to give the Rams a 55-53 lead with 2:54 left.
About a minute later, Bates missed a layup but McCafferty again got the offensive rebound and was sent to the charity stripe. He drained two more shots, expanding the lead to four. Southeast got a huge and-1 on its next possession, the first made field goal for the Cyclones in more than 15 minutes of game time.
After a missed Big Horn jumper, McCafferty was fouled with one minute left and sunk two more free throws. Southeast missed a jumper on its next possession but grabbed the offensive rebound, kicking the ball out for a corner 3. Nothing but net.
With the game tied at 59 and 30 seconds left, the Cyclones made a crucial error and intentionally fouled Big Horn. The Rams missed both free throws but kept possession of the ball.
Bates drove hard and missed a tough shot, but the ball ended up in his hands again and he was fouled with 6.4 seconds left. This time, Bates calmly converted both free throws to give the Rams a two-point advantage — and a pulse-pounding win.
The Rams ended the challenge with a 3-1 record and are now 4-6 overall.
Big Horn faces more tough competition this week as the Rams play Friday at third-ranked Rocky Mountain.
Southeast…14 7 11 16 5 6 — 59
Big Horn…….13 4 6 25 5 8 — 61
Big Horn — VanDyken 17, Bates 15, Eisele 11, McCafferty 9, Parker 5, Pelissier 3, Bradshaw 1