Central nips Niles in overtimePublished 12:05am Saturday, February 25, 2012
It took overtime to decide the Big 16 West Division boys basketball championship Friday night at Niles High School.
Visiting Kalamazoo Central, the two-time defending Class A state champions, held off the Vikings for a 64-61 victory and the division title. The two teams will meet again in Niles in the opening round of the district tournament next month.
The game was deadlocked at 57-57 at the end of regulation thanks to a 3-pointer by Myles Busby with 32.1 seconds remaining. Moments earlier, Busby had limped off with an ankle injury sustained when he came down awkwardly on a missed layup.
In the extra session, Kalamazoo Central (15-5) scored first on a basket by H’lan Hale and never trailed in the final four minutes.
One of the key plays in the overtime came when Von Washington III, the son of former Niles coach Von Washington, connected on a 3-pointer with 2:12 left in overtime to stake the Maroon Giants to a 62-58 advantage.
Washington’s trey came after Niles failed to convert on its second free throw attempt, which would have tied the game.
In the final minute, Kalamazoo Central (12-2 West) gave the Vikings a couple of opportunities to pull the game out or force a second overtime by missing three out of five free throw attempts.
But Niles (16-3, 11-3 West) could not get the ball to fall and had trouble even getting off shots against the Giants’ pressure defense.
“Pretty good game,” Niles coach Todd Pawielski said. “Two good teams going at it. One play here or there and the game could have gone either way. The kids gave a great effort tonight. Myles Busby gave a terrific effort in the clutch. Austin Parks hit some big shots.
“We had a nice shot to win it at the end of regulation and we will take that every time. Kalamazoo’s good. We’re good. I think the fans got their money’s worth tonight.”
The loss is a bitter pill to swallow for the Vikings, who just can’t seem to get past the Maroon Giants. Niles had its last two seasons ended by Kalamazoo Central in the district tournament and it is hoping that the third time will be the charm when it hosts the Giants March 5.
The game was close throughout, although Kalamazoo Central seem to have the lead much of the time after trailing 12-10 at the end of the opening quarter.
The Giants outscored the Vikings 18-9 in the second quarter to take a 28-21 lead to the locker room at the intermission.
Kalamazoo Central again held an advantage in the scoring column in the third quarter and opened up a 47-38 lead on Niles heading to the final eight minutes of regulation.
In the fourth quarter, the Vikings battled back.
Parks hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the early stages of the quarter to cut the Kalamazoo Central lead to 49-46.
On the play where Busby was injured with 4:10 remaining, Matthew McLaughlin stepped to the line in his place and hit both free throws to keep it a three-point margin.
Parks’ bucket with 3:54 to play in the fourth made it a 51-50 contest.
After Lee Gardner III pushed the lead up to three, 53-50, with a basket off a turnover, Niles was able to cut the lead to two on a Busby free throw.
Gardner scored again to give the Giants a 55-41 lead with two minutes remaining.
Down the stretch, Busby hit a 3-pointer with 1:48 showing on the clock to cut the lead to 55-54 before Washington scored with 47 ticks left in regulation to make it a three-point Kalamazoo Central lead and set the stage for the Busby heroics to send the game into overtime.
Eco Dunning led Kalamazoo Central with 16 points, while Washington and Gardner finished with 14 and 13 points respectively.
Busby led all scorers with 21 points. Niles also got 16 points from Parks and 12 points from McLaughlin. Busby also had 12 rebounds and three assists.
KALAMAZOO CENTRAL 64
H’lan Hale 2 2-4 6; Lee Gardner III 5 3-6 13; Allie Buchanan 0 0-0 0; Eco Dunning 5 4-8 16; Jamaal Conger 1 0-0 3; Von Washington III 5 1-2 14; Adrian Young 0 0-0 0; Jawun Gamble 2 2-4 6; Jeron Johnson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23 12-24 64
Myles Busby 6 4-5 21; Matthew McLaughlin 2 7-8 12; Austin Parks 6 1-3 16; Logan Harpenau 1 0-0 3; Alec Brown 0 2-3 2; Taylor Campbell 2 3-6 7; Quintin Irby 2 0-0 4; Mitchell Dehn 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 18-27 61
Central 10 28 47 57 64
Niles 12 21 38 57 61
3-point baskets: Kalamazoo Central 6 (Dunning 2, Conger, Washington 3), Niles 9 (Busby 4, McLaughlin, Parks 3, Harpenau). Total fouls (fouled out): Kalamazoo Central 21 (Dunning), Niles 18 (none). Varsity records: Kalamazoo Central 15-5, 12-2 West; Niles 16-3, 11-3 West