One team led by 13 points. The other raced to a 19-1 run. In the end, however, it all came down to the final seconds -- just like it usually does when the Arts & Sciences and Grace Academy boys' basketball teams meet.
Despite Friday's second-half scoring drought that lasted more than six minutes, host CSAS pulled away at the end to earn a 60-56 District 5-A victory over the rival Golden Eagles.
"I'm thankful that we pulled this one out," Arts& Sciences coach Mark Dragoo said. "That was a positive sign, but there were many other non-positives tonight, which is why we'll be right back out here to practice."
When that happens, the Patriots hope they won't have to face the same type of court conditions both teams were dealing with on Friday. Without the ability to turn on either the heat or air inside the CSAS gymnasium, which has its temperature controlled by the Hamilton County school system, the District 5-A showdown was played in a hot, humid gym that created slippery conditions on the court.
The game was paused numerous times as mops and towels were brought out to deal with the wet surface, which sent players slipping and sliding throughout the game. Dragoo feared the conditions might create a safety hazard for players, a fear that might have been confirmed when senior Patrick Taylor fell and re-aggravated an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Taylor, a leader on the floor for the Patriots, left the game for X-rays, but Dragoo was proud of the way the team responded in his absence.
"We're really just not playing well right now," the coach said. "There's no doubt that Grace was more physical than we were. They killed us on the boards. One positive for us is that when Patrick got hurt, we didn't fold. We found a way to come back."
The teams traded leads several times in Friday's first half, but when a long two-pointer connected for Elijah Davenport to put CSAS up 19-18, it sparked the Patriots to a 14-2 run. Davenport and Chaison Gordon each had a 3-pointer in that span, which ended with CSAS holding a 33-20 advantage at the 2:27 mark of the second quarter.
However, the Patriots would not score again until midway through the third period. The Golden Eagles closed out the first half with a steal and layup from Blake Savard, and five other players contributed to a 19-1 Grace run.
"One of the things we talked about was that when we penetrated, we needed to quit pulling up," Golden Eagles coach Jon Mattheiss said. "We started doing a better job going straight to the basket. It was a small adjustment, but I think it really helped us."
Josh Carter's 3-pointer ended Grace's streak, and a basket from the Patriots' Brandon Houston tied the score at 41 heading into the final quarter. The lead changed six times in that period, but CSAS claimed it for good when Nick Moore scored with 2:11 remaining, although the advantage wasn't secured until the final seconds.
Alex Hernandez hit a free throw to get Grace within 58-56 with 12.8 seconds remaining, but CSAS had three fouls to give. The Golden Eagles didn't get a shot off until they inbounded the ball with 4.6 to play, but their 3-pointer missed. Moore grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and connected on two free throws with less than a second on the clock.
Free-throws were ultimately a deciding factor for the Golden Eagles, who finished 4-of-21 from the line after missing just one foul shot in their game Tuesday.
"I was really proud of our guys," Mattheiss said. "I thought the effort was fantastic, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with our free throws tonight. We just can't let that happen in a tight game. It was a one-possession game so much of the time that free throws really made a difference."
Josh Smith led the Golden Eagles (7-7, 2-1) with 15 points, while Austin Powell followed with 13 and Savard finished with 11. CSAS (8-7, 3-1) was led by Gordon's 16 points, and Moore totaled 11 in the victory.
Grace Academy girls 54, Arts & Sciences 49 (overtime):
The Lady Golden Eagles took control early and held a sizeable lead for most of the game, but watched CSAS chip away at it in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer from Samantha Maffett got the Lady Patriots within 40-38 with 1:48 remaining, and after a long stretch of fouls, timeouts and free throws, Resnick Billen tied the score at 44 by connecting twice from the line with three seconds to play in regulation.
Arts & Sciences held a one-point advantage coming out of a timeout with 1:01 remaining in the overtime period, but Grace's Erika Goodman took control the rest of the way. Her steal and layup put the Lady Golden Eagles back on top, and in the final 47.5 seconds, she connected on 6-of-6 free throws to secure the win for her team. Goodman finished with 15 points, while teammate Sierra Nunley led all scorers with 20. Maffett and Brooke Mitchell contributed 11 apiece for CSAS.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTS & SCIENCES 60, GRACE ACADEMY 56
Grace 18 7 16 15 -- 56
CSAS 15 18 8 19 -- 60
Grace (56) -- Slack 9, Hughes, Swanson, Hernandez 8, Josh Smith 15, Blake Savard 11, Tisdale, McQueen, Austin Powell 13, Cooke.
CSAS (60) -- Moorer 4, O'Hara 2, Woods, Brown 2, Carter 4, Taylor 8, Chaison Gordon 16, Davenport 9, Houston 4, Nick Moore 11.
3-point goals: Grace ; CSAS 4 (Gordon 2, Carter, Davenport).
GRACE ACADEMY GIRLS 54, ARTS & SCIENCES 49 (OT)
Grace 14 8 14 8 10 -- 54
CSAS 5 9 13 17 5 -- 49
Grace (54) -- Mouw 2, Gill 4, Jemane, Bonner 5, Erika Goodman 15, Compton, Sierra Nunley 20, Carter, McMasters 8, Rueternaught.
CSAS (49) -- Little 5, K. Billen 4, McElvain 5, Brooke Mitchell 11, Samantha Maffett 11, Lee, Montgomery, R. Billen 7, Smith 3.
3-point goals: Grace 3 (Nunley, Bonner); CSAS none.