Big Eight 3-A basketball leader Orange nips rival Cedar Ridge
Cedar Ridge was gunning for an upset over heavily favored Orange. With just seven ticks of the clock left in the game, Red Wolves point guard Peyton Pappas fired up a 3-pointer to tie it. The ball circled round and round the rim.
But instead of dropping in with a dramatic flair, the rotating ball more closely resembled the Red Wolves’ comeback bid going down the drain. It popped out after its brief tease and Orange went on to win the cross-town rivalry 65-61.
The win kept the Panthers unblemished and atop the Big Eight 3-A Conference at 8-0, 15-2 overall.
The win was anything but easy despite the Panthers jumping out to an early 14-0 lead in the first period that had what seemed to be the makings of a blowout between teams that were mismatched on paper.
Indeed, Orange did not take its final lead until there was just 1:40 remaining in the game. The teams exchanged the lead eight times, with Cedar Ridge up by as many as 6, 27-21, at 6:13 of the second period.
“It’s a rivalry game, the kids know each other,” Orange coach Greg Motley said, insisting he was “not at all” surprised it came right down to the end.
“Every year it’s the same, so it’s exactly what we expected,” Motley said. “That’s just the competition we expect from these two teams.”
Orange jumped out early to its 14-0 lead on a basket and 3-pointer by 6-5 senior forward Keegan Crabtree, a pair of buckets from 5-11 junior guard Tay Jones, a 3-pointer from 5-10 junior guard Jawan Chambers, and a basket by 5-10 senior guard Jeff Campbell.
But Cedar Ridge went bombs away on a 16-7 run to end the period. Neil Higgins, a 5-11 senior shooting guard, drained a trio of 3-pointers, and Pappas nailed one of his own, drawing and converting a foul shot to make it a 4-point play.
The Red Wolves opened the second period with 11 unanswered points, which included a pair of 3-pointers from Pappas, who had a game high 22 points, and another from Higgins.
“I told our kids that that’s kind of the way the game is going to go, and not lose your focus,” Motley said of the 3-point barrage Cedar Ridge compiled.
Orange answered with 12 consecutive points, and the two teams then went toe-to-toe, going to the locker rooms with Orange leading 35-34.
The lead changed three times in the third period, with Orange still maintaining a one-point edge, 49-48, heading into the last frame.
“We thought transition was working. We got a little bit tired from just not being in practice, so we went inside, played to J.D. Brooks, and thought they didn’t have a match there,” Motley said of a coaching adjustment he made to keep Orange in the game.
Cedar Ridge took a 52-51 lead at 6:43 of the fourth period when 6-3 junior wing Kyle Jones hit a short jumper. The Red Wolves kept the lead until 2:39, when 5-8 sophomore point guard Eryk Brandon-Dean hit a layup to tie it at 58-58. Senior forward J.D. Brooks then hit a layup to give Orange a 60-58 lead at 1:40.
Cedar Ridge appeared to lose composure and failed on several chances after that.
Red Wolves 6-1 junior wing Eric Phillips passed to Pappas, who broke the wrong way and the ball went out of bounds for the turnover. The Panthers Brandon-Dean got a steal at 1:30. Pappas made an errant pass to Jones, who reached as far as he could to swat it inbounds, but with nobody near, the ball went out of bounds for the turnover.
And Pappas’ futile 3-point attempt in the closing seconds sealed their fate.
Acknowledging that the breaks went in Orange’s favor at the end, Motley also noted that J.D. Brooks “made some big plays on the blocks” to prevent Cedar Ridge from scoring.
ORANGE 65, CEDAR RIDGE 61
Orange 21 14 14 16 — 65
Cedar Ridge 16 18 14 13 — 61
ORANGE — J.D. Brooks 17, Eryk Brandon-Dean 12, Jawan Chambers 11, Tay Jones 9, Keegan Crabtree 8, Jeff Campbell 4, Aaron Robinson 3, C.J. Brown 1.
CEDAR RIDGE — Peyton Pappas 22, Neil Higgins 16, Logan Vosburg 11, Kyle Jones 8, Marquez Hunter 3, Chris McKoy 1.
Records—Orange 15-2, 7-0 Big Eight 3-A; Cedar Ridge 6-11, 2-5 Big Eight.