The Hardy Boys Hardwood Classic was buzzing in action with 19 lead changes and seven ties including a Moorefield buzzer-beater by Brent Moran to force overtime, then the Cougars survived the whirlwind attack of the Yellow Jackets by defending the Den pouncing to a 63-51 overtime victory on Friday in Baker.
“I just kept waiting for us to turn it on. Everybody was asking me why I wasn’t getting upset. I knew our kids were playing hard. There was no point in getting real excited, because we were playing hard,” East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn commented.
“We just weren’t attacking, for whatever reason we were real content for our offense to be super passive. I kept telling our kids to take them off the dribble and go to the rim, until we got put in a situation where we had to we really didn’t do that. We only had one or two attacking up until the final two minutes of the game, then we figured out hey there we are, we can play a little bit. It really takes a lot of pressure off when we all start attacking. I am just super proud of them, the last two games have been nail biters the whole way and the kids just found a way to win. We aren’t playing that great, but we are finding ways to get through it and to be successful. The biggest key is we don’t panic, we know it is going to be a game and we’re not going to go out here and blow anybody’s doors off so we aren’t panicked. When it comes down to crunch time, it’s nice to have that leadership to go to. I can’t say enough about Aden Funkhouser, the past two games he is the rock to this team. He comes in and has a solid game every single night. He doesn’t have monster numbers, but we know what we are getting out of him every time. I am proud of the effort these kids put in tonight. We can find ways to win.”
Moorefield (3-18) won the previous meeting and came in with intensity and desire battling through the contest seeking to snap a 15-game losing streak, but East Hardy (9-9) wouldn’t back down and kept pace with a final push of willpower in the end to deny that opportunity in this wild rivalry contest.
A pair of Yellow Jacket free throws by Garett Haggerty provided a 45-41 lead with 1:50 remaining in regulation.
After Moorefield’s Brent Moran stole the ball, he was met with a hug by East Hardy’s Brett Tharp to stop the clock.
On the ensuing inbound play, there was a scramble for the ball and East Hardy’s Aden Funkhouser alertly took a dive to corral it and made a pass to teammate Drew Kelican, who was fouled at 1:33.
Kelican sank both foul shots to pull the Cougars to within two points, 45-43.
East Hardy applied full-court pressure and Kelican deflected a pass out of bounds, then Haggerty slowed the pace down to chew a little time off the clock before passing to Chase Vance.
Vance was greeted by a Cougars trap set by Funkhouser and Kelican which created a turnover on a five-second violation.
The Cougars hit iron on their shot attempt and the ball ricocheted out of bounds with 1:06 to go.
A long pass by Moorefield’s Blake Watts to Haggerty for what looked like an easy layup went awry as Tharp caught up to make a foul preventing the basket.
Haggerty missed both free throws, then Tharp snatched the rebound.
East Hardy hit the rim again and Jesse Dove grabbed the rebound and the next attempt was off the mark in traffic.
Several players reached out to get the rebound and during the chaos the ball bounced off what was determined to be Tharp’s fingertips out of bounds much to the chagrin of the Cougar fans with 51 seconds left and a timeout was called with a short protest.
East Hardy’s press forced a timeout, then Tharp stole the ball and was falling back in front of the Sam Blizzard calling the radio play-by-play and coach Chris Hahn summoned for a timeout.
After the timeout, Kelican scored on a layup to tie the game at 45-all with 46 seconds remaining.
During the press, East Hardy’s Adam Larson swiped then all and scored to put the Cougars on top 47-45.
Haggerty hit a jumper in the paint with 15 seconds remaining to tie the game again and a timeout would be called by East Hardy with six seconds on the clock.
Kelican started to drive down the top of the key protecting the ball with his right arm as Moorefield’s Chase Vance stepped alongside and nudged him just enough to where the ball bounced down off Kelican’s foot and ricocheted out of bounds.
The players looked to the referees for a call as Moorefield thought it was a turnover, but a foul was assessed on Vance with just under two seconds on the clock as Haggerty put his hands on his heads while Tharp and Kelican clapped hands.
Kelican drilled both free throws as East Hardy took a 49-47 edge with the bench reacting to the lead including Chance Dove jumping up and leaning over Nick Miller as the rest cheered.
A timeout was called as Moorefield drew up a final play for those waning seconds (1.6).
Watts took the ball along the baseline and launched a deep pass with Tharp playing the safety leaping up along the free throw line deflecting the ball, but it ricocheted into the hands of Moran while Haggerty made a screen on Larson giving Moran free reign to jump up releasing the ball into the hoop for the buzzer-beater forcing overtime with the cheerleaders leaping up during the play.