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By Jack Bellows
Prospect knew they had a big game against Elk Grove Friday February 8th as they took on the Elk Grove Grenadiers to win the MSL East. Knowing this they came to play as they won 70 to 68 in a double overtime thriller.
“You got your Thanksgiving tournament, your Christmas tournament, but this is the big one. It’s the MSL East title, the first real championship you can win. I am proud of the guys,” said Camardella.
With a second overtime about to start, Prospect fans thought the team would have no energy left and play sloppy, but the Knights didn’t allow that to happen.
“The key is that we have put enough time into practice up to this point where we can say that we are in shape to deal with one of those games,” said Camardella.
In the second overtime, the Knights drew first blood as they took the lead 66 to 64 with senior Devin O’Hara’s (16 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) finger roll. Elk Grove immediately responded with sophomore Matt Wary’s three pointer, putting them up 67 to 66. But yet again, Prospect responded with a nice jumper putting them up 68 to 67. The Knights then committed a foul, sending Wary to the line where he tied the game hitting one of his two free throws. Then with 45 seconds left the Knights got called for a charge, turning the ball over to Elk Grove. This really had fans on the edge of their seat.
After that, with 0:26 left on the clock, senior Kevin Kapka answered back, taking a charge and stopping the Grenadiers from an otherwise easy layup. When the Knights regained control of the ball, junior Tommy Flahaven drew a foul with 18.1 seconds where he made the second of his two free throws putting Prospect up 69 to 68. After a failed scoring attempt by Elk Grove, the Knights regained the ball and were fouled with 2.9 seconds left in the game. Junior Danny Thomas made the second of his two free throws, insuring the Knights’ lead to 70 to 68.
The remaining time was not enough for Elk Grove to score as they heaved a halfcourt final shot and missed, giving the Knights another MSL East title.
Before the second overtime started the Knights hoped to get the win in the first overtime The extra minutes immediately started off interesting as the first tip off was missed by both teams. On the second try, Prospect was able to secure the tip and start with the ball. Elk Grove scored first in OT leading 60 to 57. In the next play, the Knights were able to make it even closer with Flahaven scoring an easy two points. After that, the Grenadiers quickly drove down and forced Frasco to commit his fifth, fouling him out. This is when O’Hara knew he had to step up.
“[Bobby Frasco (17 points, 9 rebounds) fouling out] happened in the other Elk Grove game the exact same way. I just told Bob ‘I got you,’” O’Hara said.
When head coach John Camardella was asked about all of his teams fouls he simply laughed and shook his head.
“We’re hacks. I’ve been trying to change us all year and I have come to terms that were are a bunch of hacks,” Camardella said.
Since all these fouls were committed Senior Austin Amann of the Grenadiers was sent to the line and made one of his two free throws, making the score 61 to 59 Elk Grove.
Just then, with 1:25 left in overtime, Mike Houghton drew the foul and made the basket (his third “and one” of the night) sending him to the line where he made the free throw, putting Prospect up 62 to 61.
After Prospect’s final timeout, Elk Grove fouled and sent the Knights back to the line where Houghton hit two clutch free throws putting the Knights up 64 to 61 with 34.1 seconds left.
What happened next for Elk Grove was unthinkable. With 14.3 seconds left on the clock, Amann threw up a three, brushing his shoulder against a Prospect player looking for a foul. He did not get the foul call; however, while fading away, he was able to hit a mind-boggling three pointer sending the game into a second overtime.
“I was like ‘alright, I can’t control it now, so let’s just go out and win in a second overtime,’” O’Hara said.
To even think of overtime the Knights had to fight hard in the 4th quarter first.The Knights started off the quarter insuring their lead 50 to 43. That is when the Elk Grove’s scoring streak began. Amaan single handedly made the game tighter 50 to 48 with his tip in and “and one” in which he sunk the free throw.
The Knights started to build back up their lead, but the game was so back and forth that before you knew it the game was tied at 55 with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter. Then with 0:48 left, senior Brian Kelly for Elk Grove got a nice bounce pass for an easy layup to take the lead 57 to 55. Prospect wasn’t about to give up as O’Hara (16 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) dished a perfect pass to Bobby Frasco who was fouled at 33.8 seconds left, made the shot to tie the game, and was sent to the line for one more. Unfortunately, Frasco could not capitalize on his free throw and the game remained tied at 57, sending the Knights and Grenadiers into overtime.
The 4th quarter success was partly due to how the Knights came out of halftime on fire.The game started off a little shaky for the Knights as they trailed at halftime 31 to 29. Through good teamwork and hard fought play, the Knights were able to take the lead at the end of the third quarter, leading 43 to 40.
When asked what this game means to the seniors, O’Hara said, “Everything. We have gone through a lot this year, ups and downs, and this was going to make or break our season, so this was everything and we did it.”