LEWIS & CLARK BOYS BASKETBALL: Catlin Gabel 47, O.E.S. 45

In a game shockingly similar to the first meeting of the two private school rivals, the Catlin Gabel Eagles edged the Oregon Episcopal School Aardvarks 47-45 Monday night at Catlin Gabel.

The Eagles had beaten O.E.S. 49-47 on the road earlier in the season in another game where offense was at a premium. Monday night’s rematch featured a bizarre and unfortunate twist in the final two minutes.

The host Eagles, who honored their seniors before tipoff, led most of the way after limiting the Aardvarks to a single field goal in the first period and 4-for-32 shooting in the first half. The Aardvarks narrowed a 15-4 second quarter deficit to seven by halftime and closed within 32-29 after senior guard Ian Holzman drained a fall-away three pointer from the right corner as time expired in the third period.

A 1st-team All-Lewis & Clark League selection as a junior, Holzman took over in the fourth period. He drained a three-pointer to pull O.E.S. within one just past the five minute mark, then hit an over the shoulder bank shot over Catlin’s 6-9 center Ned Williamson to give the Aardvarks a 38-37 lead with 4:29 to play, their first advantage of the game. The Eagles answered soon after as Williamson scored on a putback, followed by a time out with 4:10 to play.

With Catlin Gabel leading 39-38, neither team would score for the next two-and-a-half minutes. Then a loose ball scramble near the O.E.S. baseline drew a whistle from the referee. At first, it appeared that a foul had been called on Catlin Gabel, based on the reaction of players near the scene. But both teams slowly made their way to the other end of the court as the foul was assessed to O.E.S. freshman Charles Willcott. Before Catlin Gabel’s Jett Sheng stepped to the foul line, a technical foul was called on O.E.S. head coach Lauran Pratt. Sheng stepped to the empty lane and proceeded to miss both free throws. Then, things got seriously off-track.

The Willcott foul was the eighth of the half on O.E.S., meaning that Catlin was due to shoot one-and-one free throws. But Sheng went back to the line following a time out and again players were kept off the lane. This time Sheng hit both free throws. But, Catlin Gabel was awarded the ball out-of-bounds, when possession should have switched to O.E.S. With 1:42 to go, Rowan Hoffman was fouled and sank two free throws.

Instead of getting the ball in a one posssession game, now O.E.S. trailed 43-38. After a couple of missed shots on the ensuing possession, Sheng was fouled again and hit one of two free throws to put the Eagles up 44-38. O.E.S. called time out with 1:09 to go and sliced the lead in half after Holzman rebounded a missed David Lewis three, stepped back behind the line and drained his third trifecta of the second half. With 37 seconds left, the Aardvarks fouled Agapiev, who calmly sank both free throws for a 46-41 lead.

With 19.5 seconds to go, Holzman was fouled on a three-point shot attempt by Sheng. He hit the first two shots, but missed the third and the Aardvarks were again forced to foul to stop the clock. Leading 46-43 with 11 seconds left, Hoffman hit the first of two free throws and missed the second. The Aardvarks boarded the miss and pushed the ball up the floor, where Holzman pulled up from the top of the key and nailed another bomb, but his toes were on the line. The clock showed less than a second, but the officials put 1.6 seconds on the clock. Sheng inbounded the ball to Hoffman and the Aardvarks immediately went to foul him, but no whistle blew, time expired and the Eagles celebrated their fifth straight win and tenth in the last 11 games.

Holzman led all scorers with 28 points, scoring all 16 O.E.S. points in the final period and the final 19 points of the game for the Aardvarks. Holzman also pulled down seven rebounds, including five of O.E.S.’s 18 offensive rebounds. Jim Lin had eight boards and four blocked shots to go with two points. Colby Bullard struggled through a tough shooting night, finishing with eight points on 3-of-16 shooting. The Aardvarks shot 22-percent for the game, making two fewer field goals (13-58) than Catlin (15-41) despite taking 17 more shots, a result of an 18-10 edge on the offensive glass and a plus-11 advantage in turnovers.

Sheng tallied 16 points to lead the Eagles, hitting all three of his shots from beyond the arc. Agapiev scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Hoffman dished out four assists and finished with just three points, but his free throw in the fourth quarter was probably the biggest point of the game. Williamson hauled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

The game was essentially meaningless, as the two teams are on a collision course to meet against next Tuesday in the Lewis & Clark League playoffs. Catlin Gabel is locked in to the two-seed, while O.E.S will likely finish third. The teams also met last year in the 2 vs. 3 playoff game with O.E.S. the higher-seed host and victor. Both teams were eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs last year.