Wildcats edge Red Wolves in overtime thriller

  • Chris Trujillo<br>For the Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:58am


Archbishop Murphy boys basketball coach Jerry Zander has been baffled by the Wildcats’ unpredictable free-throw shooting this season.

Their up and down tendencies nearly cost them an important Cascade Conference game against the struggling Cedarcrest Red Wolves on Jan. 26.

But thanks to a few lucky breaks, the Wildcats hung on and defeated the Red Wolves 73-66 in overtime.

“I am disappointed by the way we played tonight,” Zander said. “I thought we’d play better defense. And I am disappointed by our poor free throw shooting and that we were unable to put them away from the line. This is the second game in a row where we had an opportunity to win the game with our free throw shooting. That is something that is going to hurt us down the road.”

The Wildcats went 3-for-8 from the free-throw line in the third quarter and finished the game 18-of-32 (56 percent). In overtime, they made 8-of-14 from the line.

Archbishop Murphy improved to 5-3 in league and 7-8 overall. The Wildcats, who were tied for third place in league, host second-place Granite Falls (6-2, 12-2) tonight (Friday, Feb. 2) at 7 p.m.

“The top two teams automatically advance to the district tournament,” Zander said. “The other four teams get to do a play-in game. It is super-important to finish in the top two. But we have to play much better and more consistent if we are to make the top two.”

After leading by nearly double-digits for most of the second half, the Wildcats gave the Red Wolves several golden opportunities, including an untimely and unnecessary foul with 1.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 61-61, Archbishop Murphy’s Nick Anderson fouled junior guard Louie Labate at mid-court and with the clock nearing zero. Labate, however, missed both free throws, sending the game into overtime.

“That was a tough loss,” Cedarcrest coach Ray Labate said. “But it wasn’t unusual for us to lose a close game. That’s the way it’s been going this entire season. We’ve been in every game we’ve played. But we’re a young team and we haven’t been able to close out games.”

Junior forward Ryan Bourke led the Wildcats in the extra frame, scoring six points and converting 4-of-4 from the line. He brought the crowd to its feet with an impressive one-handed dunk just before the buzzer sounded.

The Wildcats outscored Cedarcrest 12-5 in the final four minutes. Bourke finished with 16 points behind sophomore J.D. Melton’s 18 points. Team captain Jared Smith finished with 15 points for the Wildcats. Alex Fromm led Cedarcrest with 18 points and Matt Coltom added 15 points.

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