By Jason Maholy
It took Brother Rice and Richards to the final second to determine the winner of a battle that lasted 44 minutes.
The final play didn’t go as it was drawn up for the Crusaders, but Cullen Cosme scored on a driving baseline layup with less than second to play in the third overtime to lift Rice to an 85-83 victory over the Bulldogs on Jan. 14.
The Crusaders were trying to get the ball to Colin Campbell, whose hot hand poured in 28 points and gave Rice a chance to win by hitting clutch shots late. Conor Glennon instead found Cosme in the left corner. The junior guard went hard to the hoop and converted a highly contested shot with .4 seconds left on the clock.
Cosme had scored only three points and hit one shot from the field to that point.
“He’s crafty around the basket,” Crusaders coach Bobby Frasor said of Cosme. “He overpenetrated and had uncharacteristic turnovers early, but I like going with him down the stretch. He makes plays. It’s kind of what he’s done his whole life and he made a big one right there.”
Deandre Hagan led Rice with a season-high 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Kajuan Wines led Richards with 25 points. Trevon Jones added 20, Burtron Harper finished with 15 and Anthony Taylor had 14.
The matchup between the two schools that are separated by three miles looked like a laugher early, with Rice streaking to a 21-6 lead. The Bulldogs, however, roared back, using a 23-2 run to take a 29-23 lead.
Richards led 35-30 at halftime and extended their advantage with another run, scoring the first nine points of the third quarter to stake themselves to their largest lead of 14 points.
“It’s not like they were doing anything great,” Frasor said of Richards simple-yet-effective approach. “They just started trapping us, pressuring us, and we started throwing the ball all over the place. They’re a good team, they’re well coached and that’s what they do.”
The swing from being up 15 to trailing by 14 in the course of about 12 minutes could have been demoralizing, and Frasor had to encourage his players to remain optimistic in the face of adversity
“I was just challenging our guys,” he said. “You could tell their body language was bad, but I was telling them we had a lot of time left, and if [Richards] can go on a run like that we can go on a run like that. We didn’t necessarily go on a run like that but we just chipped away, chipped away.”
Rice had closed the deficit to 51-43 by the start of the fourth quarter, but they still trailed by seven with just under two minutes remaining. A furious rally began with Hagan hitting back-to-back threes, and Glenon scored with 32 seconds left to make it 63-61.
“Dre’s been making very difficult shots all year,” Frasor said of Hagan. “There’s times I pull my hair out, say ‘that’s a bad shot,’ but he’s been making them so we’ll keep riding him.”
Campbell made arguably the game’s biggest defensive play on Richards’ ensuing possession when he poked the ball away and got it ahead to Hagan, who was wide open for a game-tying layup with 9.5 to play in regulation.
“Finally, we settled down and started making some plays,” Frasor said of the comeback. “Even late, when it looked like they were in control, we got a steal from Colin and the pass to Dre to force the first overtime.”
Frasor noted the swings of momentum and emotion over the full 44 minutes were fun to be a part of, and he is hopeful the toughness his team displayed can carry over into the rest of the season.
“It seemed like we were going to lose, then we’re up three and we’re going to win, then we turn it over four times in a row…” he said. “It was a great high school basketball game. Probably not the most cleanly played on our part, but entertaining nonetheless.
“I think we’re growing from a toughness standpoint. I would like to not be down 14 before we start learning those lessons, but it’s still a great win for us and hopefully we can springboard to some more wins.”