The Cherry Hill East boys basketball team lost in overtime yesterday 55-50 to rival Cherry Hill West.
Chris Santo (‘11) led all scorers with 28 points, while grabbing 8 rebounds.
The Cougars were dominant in the first quarter, holding West’s 6-8 center Chris Gephardt (’10) to three points while forcing him to miss several inside shots.
Gerphardt’s field goal in the first quarter put him at 1,000 career points. The game was stopped for a brief ceremony and in a moment of good sportsmanship, the West junior thanked East coach John Valore for addressing the milestone.
On the other end, Santo (12 points in first quarter) helped the cougars take a 15-5 first quarter lead when Seth Friedman (’10) drove into the lane and found him wide open for a three-pointer with three seconds left.
East continued to look strong in the second quarter. Tight pressure defense forced two turnovers in the first two minutes of the quarter. Santo continued to impress the large crowd when he drove past Gerphardt for a left-handed lay-up at 5:25 to put East up 17-5. After Santo found Stacey Upshaw (’11) for an easy lay-up to put East up 19-5 at 4:32, West coach David Allen called a time out.
The timeout proved to be the turning point of the game. West ended the quarter on an 8-0 run while East failed to connect from several wide-open three point attempts.
However, the highlight of the half may have been with 45 seconds left and West holding for the last shot, the Cougar Countrymen began to deceivingly count down the apparent final seconds of the half. And with three seconds left West shot a desperation three-point shot that didn’t come close to the rim.
West’s momentum carried into the 3rd quarter as they started the half with a 5-0 run. But a Dan Melleby (’11) three at 6:25 kept East ahead 22-18.
West continued to fight back. At 4:30 Mickel Orr (’10) hit a three to cut the East lead to one point. Finally, Joe Desantis (’09) gave West their first lead at 27-26 when he made two free throws with 1:43 left. The ensuing inbound pass was stolen and Matt Speckmann (’10) hit a three to put West up 30-26. Santo, who had not scored since the four-minute mark of the 2nd quarter backed down Gephardt with 35 seconds left to cut the lead to two points.
West held the lead through most of the fourth quarter. Mickel Orr kept West in front with 11 fourth quarter points, including an amazing mid-air put-back with a foul. The following possession, Orr gave West their largest lead of the game when he hit a jump shot at 4:55 to make the score 37-29.
East stayed in the game thanks to three-point field goals by Ben Gerstein (’10) and Logan Marro (’09), but it was ultimately Santo who sent the game into overtime.
After Santo made two free throws with 1:30 left in the game to make the score 44-41, East forced a Gephardt turnover. With 47 seconds left in the game Seth Friedman found Santo wide open for three and the sophomore, the leading scorer in South Jersey, hit nothing but net to tie the game.
West was unable to get a good look in the final seconds and the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, East took an early lead when Upshaw was fouled and made both free throws.
However, West’s Orr tied it immediately with a strong drive to the lane.
A missed East shot, followed by a Gephardt lay-up and foul shot put West up three with 1:11 left to play. After two Santo free throws to cut the lead to one, Gephardt once again found open space down low and deposited an easy two points.
Down three points with 23 seconds left, Upshaw missed a jump shot in the middle of the lane but Santo crashed the middle and tipped the ball back in. An East foul, with 21 seconds left, put Darryl Nable (’10) to the foul line where he made two shots.
With under 20 seconds left, and again down three points, Friedman found Gerstein for an open three point shot which rattled around the rim before falling out. Santo grabbed the rebound and the ball was moved around the perimeter before Melleby shot a three from the corner that hit the back of the rim.
An East foul with .02 seconds left allowed Nable to add two free throws and end the game.