Despite breakout performances on Saturday from the Starks twins for Ross, Willard came back from a double-digit deficit to secure a 61-58 overtime win at the Purple Pit.
The Little Giants almost didn’t get the opportunity to advance to the overtime period.
With 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 54, Willard’s Hayden Adams missed an uncontested shot near the paint that sailed off the glass and rim as time expired.
“In a game like this, one possession does not determine the game,” Ross coach Marc Gedeon said. “The game is determined by an accumulation of possessions and will look those over and figure out what we could have done better to have won this game.”
After one quarter of play, it didn’t appear the game was headed toward a nail-biting finish, as the Little Giants held a commanding 27-14 lead highlighted by an 85 percent field goal percentage.
Ross “came out absolutely on fire and were scoring in full throttle,” Crimson Flashes coach Dave Hirschy said. “With how they came out, I was OK with only being down eight (points) by halftime.
In the quarter, the Little Giants were led in scoring by Alex Metcalf, who contributed seven of his team-high 16 points.
Drew Starks added five points and three of his game-high 10 steals.
Of the 19 turnovers committed in the contest by Willard, Ross’ Drew Starks caused 11 of them.
“The Starks are great basketball players,” Hirschy said. “I didn’t realize (Dylan Starks) was such a good shooter, either.”
Drew and Dylan Starks would each end with 10 points, including three three-pointers by Dylan.
Starks’ first 3-pointer came at the buzzer to end the opening period and he would add a clutch one with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Little Giants a 54-53 lead.
Hayden Adams converted one-of-two free throw attempts with 1:37 remaining for Willard to tie the contest.
In overtime, Ross fell to a 59-58 deficit at the 1:45 mark following a score by a backdoor cut from Willard’s Corey Bahach on an assist from Adams.
With 29 seconds remaining, the Little Giants had two opportunities to relinquish the lead as Metcalf missed a 3-point field and teammate Drew Solander hauled in the rebound and narrowly missed the putback.
With 7.3 seconds remaining, Willard gained possession and Carson Ebert would push the lead to three with a two free-throws.
Metcalf wove through defenders and toss up a prayer from the volleyball line that went off the backboard and unanswered.
“That’s who I wanted to take that shot and he got a great look at the end,” Gedeon said. “I wanted the basketball in his hands and I believed that when he released that shot that it was in.
Moments earlier, “Drew Solander came in with the hustle play that didn’t go in either.”
For the Crimson Flashes, Matt Cok provided a game-high 18 points complemented with seven rebounds.