There were just two shots taken in the overtime on Saturday in the first-round PIAA Class AA boys’ basketball game between Quaker Valley and Richland.
The Quakers had both shots including the game-winner by Winter Fondi with time winding down in a 42-40 victory over the Rams in a nailbiter.
“I have to give Quaker Valley credit, they are a very disciplined team and very patient,” said Richland coach Greg Burke.
“They made a shot with 2 seconds left and our guys played a great game. They hung in there and battled the entire time. They played great team defense and we did the little things that we had to in order to stay in the game and that’s what I’m most proud of them for.”
The game was close throughout, with neither team able to get more than five points ahead of the other.
Richland held the lead three times in the first quarter, but trailed 11-10 after the initial frame. In the second quarter, the Rams (20-6) got a basket from Kyle Flick to take a 12-11 lead, but treys by John Bernard and Clay Noyes helped the Quakers to a 24-20 advantage at the half.
Richland was just 2 of 10 from the free-throw line in the first half.
“We were 2 of 10 from the foul line and down by four on a last second shot at the half,” Burke said.
“You put yourself in that situation, but it’s very hard to overcome that. We battled back despite that.”
The Quakers (22-3), who will play Aliquippa, a 60-42 winner over Fairview on Saturday, in the second round set for Wednesday at a site and time to be determined, took a 33-28 lead into the fourth.
Matt Shaffer, who finished with a team-high 17 points for the Rams, gave Richland its first lead of the second half on a basket with 3:12 left in regulation.
Fondi returned the lead to the Quakers with 1:12 to go.
Chris Conlan had one of two free throws to put Quaker Valley ahead 40-38 with 17.6 seconds on the clock, but Shaffer answered back with 3.8 seconds left to even the game at 40.
Fondi got off a shot as the buzzer sounded, but it didn’t go in, setting up the overtime.
“The key is to get a couple point lead not be a couple points behind every time,” Burke said. “In the fourth, we’d get good defensive stands and then we wouldn’t have the best offensive look and we weren’t converting a couple times when we really needed to.
“I give our kids credit, we scored with a couple seconds left to go to force the overtime and that’s a credit to their character.”
Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said his team was in foul trouble heading into the overtime and that’s why they held the ball throughout most of the overtime.
“It’s probably not what you usually do in a state playoff game when your season and our seniors’ careers are on the line, but if I had to do it again, I would probably do the same thing,” the Quakers coach said. “We were going to hold it for the last shot.”
Fondi finished with 17 points and eight rebounds for Quaker Valley while Flick added 11 points for the Rams, who also got seven points and seven boards from Ryan Ball.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.