New Castle overcame a third-quarter, Wapahani flurry and a Hail Mary, buzzer-beating 3-pointer, to top a tough Raider team in overtime 63-57.
New Castle led by three points with just 8.2 seconds remaining after Abe Haler calmly sank the second of his two free throws, but what looked like the end of the line for the Raiders wasn’t. Wapahani raced up court and Grant Evans launched a 3 which careened hard off of the iron. The ensuing rebound found its way out above the top of the key to Raider senior Brandon Williams, who launched a twisting, turning 25-footer that found nothing but net as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime.
In the extra frame, New Castle, led by Korey Ryan’s eight points, was able to hit its free throws and force two important turnovers to pull out the victory.
“We put ourselves in a position to win this game,” Wapahani coach Matt Luce said. “We came in knowing that if we could be in a good position in the fourth quarter, that we would have a great chance to win the game. We had great attitude tonight, we played hard and came out and fought in a tournament-type atmosphere and just couldn’t come away with a victory.”
New Castle built a six-point halftime lead thanks to a strong shooting second quarter in which they knocked down four threes, but Wapahani stormed back with its own strong shooting performance in the third quarter.
“We had a great third quarter,” Luce said. “We took things one possession at a time. We talked at the half about some small mistakes we made, how we missed some free throws that could have made a difference and how we gave up a couple of 3s that helped them get their lead. I told the boys to just go out in the third and not try to get it all back at one time.”
Wapahani’s performance was even more impressive given they were playing without starting center Jacob Foster, who sat out of the game with a 103-degree temperature.
“He is a huge part of what we do,” Luce said. “But with that, we didn’t change a thing in our game plan. We go into games expecting to win. These kids know they can win any game they play. Not having Foster doesn’t change their thinking. We scheduled New Castle because we wanted to win.”
Grant Evans and Tanner Davis led the Raiders (6-3) with 19 points apiece. Evans, who was quieted by the Trojans tough defense in the first half, scored 14 of his 19 in the second half. Davis was efficient as he hit five of his seven shots and all six of his free throw attempts.
Steven Bennett was the top scorer for New Castle (7-3) and led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Ryan added 19 and Haler rounded out the double figure scoring with 10.