After a blowout in the seventh-grade game, Craig Middle School and Little Snake River Valley School played a basketball game none of the players will soon forget.
Four quarters wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs and the Rattlers on Thursday night at CMS, as Snake River came from behind and won in overtime, 30-29.
Craig got out to a strong start through its zone defense. The Bulldogs kept Snake River outside the paint and forced them to be jump shooters, while delivering effective offense on the other end.
They jumped out to a 7-3 lead after a quarter and led 16-7 at halftime. But the Rattlers hit just enough 3-pointers to stick around, and then pounced in the fourth quarter.
“There was a little bit of a lack of focus” in the fourth, head coach Justin Folley said. “I told them at halftime if we let them breathe, they’re going to come back. And they did.”
Snake River got into its full-court press and forced some turnovers, creating easier scoring opportunities and closing the gap. Kameron Englehart drew two consecutive fouls and went three for four from the foul line to knock Craig’s lead to just 23-22. But the Bulldogs didn’t grab the rebound on the missed free throw and Snake River hit a 3 to take the lead late in the game.
But on its last possession of regulation, CMS came up big. Under heavy duress with the clock winding down, Kaden Hafey hit a fadeaway jumper to tie the game with four seconds left.
“Hafey stepped up with that last second shot,” Folley said. “The best part of that is he’s not one of our main shooters, but more of a defensive stopper for our team.”
In the overtime period, the teams played an even few minutes, but free throws gave the Rattlers a slim lead. With under a minute to play, CMS had multiple good looks at the basket, but none of them dropped. Snake River would run out the final eight seconds of the clock without being fouled to win.
“That’s kind of been the season for us, is shots not falling,” Folley said. “That’s part of the game, and hopefully it will eventually all come together, and we’ll put up 60 in a game.”
It was a tough loss for the Bulldogs, but it came on the heel of a huge win from the seventh grade game. With their patented pressure working in the first half, CMS jumped out to a 30-0 lead at halftime, and went on to win, 60-3.
The Rattlers, who fill out their rosters with players from lower grades, couldn’t make any headway against Craig’s press and repeatedly turned the ball over in the first half. After jumping out to the big lead, CMS backed off into its half-court man-to-man defense, but the result was the same.
“We got back and worked on our man-to-man, but as soon as we get the ball back, we still want to get out and go,” said coach Jason Buhrman. “So we still play fast on offense because that’s our style. If we can’t get a quick basket then we run our sets, and we made a lot of good decisions today.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.