THREE OAKS — A wild Dec. 30 holiday break battle between the Bridgman and River Valley varsity boys basketball teams took two overtimes to decide.
And there was a surprise ending.
It was all Bees early as the visitors jumped out to an 11-2 advantage thanks to early three-pointers from Jayce Warren and Riley Gloe, a regulation hoop by Gloe (with an assist from Nate Necas), and John Sanderson’s scoop shot.
In a sign of things to come Jayden McNabb knocked down a “3” for RV to make it an 11-5 ballgame. Buckets by Reid Haskins and Necas helped Bridgman ramp up the lead to 19-5 after one period of play.
The Mustangs opened the second stanza by going on a 9-3 run (powered by another Jayden McNabb trey along with scores from Patrick Driscoll, Josh Seifert and Evan Gatz) to pull within eight 22-14).
The Bees built the lead back up to 10 as Sanderson sank a three-pointer and Warren scored, but a late “3” from Gatz left the half-time tally 27-20.
Bridgman out-scored River Valley 14-12 in the third quarter to lead 41-32, with Warren pouring in 9 points while Gloe connected from three-point land. Driscoll paced the Mustangs with 7 points in the period including a shot-plus-foul three-point play.
Valley had pulled within four points of the lead (44-40) midway through the final frame as Driscoll drove to the basket for two, Jayden McNabb sank a pair of shots, and Gatz knocked one down.
The Bees got some breathing room thanks to a Necas three-pointer and Warren’s three-point play, only to have consecutive “3s” from Jayden McNabb tie things up at 50-50 at the 1:33 mark of the fourth quarter.
A pair of Warren free throws with 1:22 remaining and a bucket by Jayden McNabb 10 seconds hence closed out the scoring in regulation, and the first overtime session began with the score knotted at 52-all.
Only four total points were tallied in the first extra session as Haskins scored in the paint for Bridgman and Driscoll went 2-for-2 at the line for River Valley.
The lead changed hands four times as the second OT got rolling – Jayden McNabb opened the scoring with a jumper, Sanderson sank a three-pointer, McNabb hit a runner, and Dylan Reisig was on the mark from outside for the Bees. All of this left Bridgman clinging to a 59-58 lead, which was bolstered with 31 seconds to go by a pair of Warren foul shots.
Jayden McNabb made a clutch jumper with 16 seconds showing on the clock to pull River Valley within a point (61-60), but a 1-for-2 trip to the stripe by Necas upped with Bee lead to 62-60 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Driscoll brought the Mustang faithful to their feet with just four seconds left by drilling what appeared to be the game-winning three-point shot, but on the ensuing in-bounds play with time nearly expired and the action on the court a combination of celebration and desperation there was a collision that sent Warren to the free-throw line with 1.2 seconds remaining.
The senior calmly knocked down both opportunities and the Bees emerged triumphant by a 64-63 margin.
“I was able to drive to the basket and get some points, and I also got some kick-out shots,” Warren said of being able to score enough in the second-half to hold off the surging Mustangs.
He finished with 24 points, Sanderson scored 12, Gloe tallied 11 and Necas contributed 10 points for Bridgman (2-3).
Jayden McNabb paced River Valley (3-1) with a game-high 28 points, Driscoll tallied 18 points, and Cadden Krieger finished with 9 points.
“I thought we had a really good first half … We shot really well early from the three-point line,” said Bridgman coach Mike Miller, who noted that Jayden McNabb’s performance for the Mustangs was impressive.
“He does a lot of really good things on the court,” he said.
“Down the stretch I though we fought,” said River Valley coach Tyler Haske, who said he didn’t see enough fight in the first half.
“Coming into the game … I thought we’d be a lot tougher than that.”
But Haske said he saw a lot of positive things down the stretch.
The Bison boys team topped South Bend Career Academy 83-73 on Jan. 4. Markvell Shaw (26 points), Kaden Parmley (23 points) and Jeremiah Mitchell (21 points) all reached double figures.
The unbeaten Bison are scheduled to host River Valley on Jan. 10.