11-0 was the best record in the OSBA going into this game, owned by Orangeville Prep. For the most part they have defeated teams by a significant margin but their contest against Bill Crothers would be one of their more challenging opponents until this point. Bill Crothers is 1 of 2 teams in the league with a single loss on their record and they’ve been on a tear since November 16th.
The first quarter was largely a low scoring affair but both coaches would be mostly impressed by the defense displayed by their starting lineups. Teams exchanged steals, blocks and contested jumpers while they got their offense rolling. Bill Crothers were the first to strike on the scoreboard but Orangeville quickly retaliated with shots of their own to overtake the lead. Although the Orangeville offense wasn’t particularly prolific, they consistently were the first to any loose ball and they dominated both the defensive and offensive boards
Orangeville held their lead into the second quarter and began the frame with a 17-11 lead over Bill Crothers. Top 2018 prospect Ignas Brazdeikis continued to be a focal point of the Orangeville offense and with the assistance of Aaryn Rai, their lead grew to as much as 11 points by the half way point of the quarter. On the other end Stefan Smith orchestrated the Bill Crothers offense in order to keep them from letting the deficit grow too large. When Smith eventually checked out of the game, Jacob Fraser handled his responsibilities and his masterful 3-point shooting was instrumental in cutting the deficit to only 2 points. With Smith back in the game, Bill Crothers eventually took the lead at 38-36 but Orangeville didn’t delay in their retaliation. Although Bill Crothers had an advantage with the benefit of being in the bonus early, Brazdeikis often got himself to the free throw line the hard way to reclaim a 42-41 lead by halftime.
The second half began with Bill Crothers charging out to a 6-point lead but once again Orangeville didn’t trail for very long. They quickly raced back to tie the game but this time around Bill Crothers held off the run and Fraser’s 3-point shooting managed to give them a 7-point lead, their biggest at that point of the game. Bill Crothers were consistently able to shut down Orangeville’s half court sets but when losing the ball on the offensive end, they were left exposed for many fast break scores. Despite the frequent runs by their opponents, the long range shooting kept them afloat for an extended period. A James Karnik block sparked transition where Keshaun Saunders hit a tough buzzer beater from behind the 3-point line to trim Bill Crothers lead to a single point heading into the final frame, 67-68.
Within the first 2 minutes Orangeville reclaimed their earlier lead behind an aggressive scoring performance in the paint by Aaryn Rai but the bombs continued to fall for Smith and the Bill Crothers Squad. With less than 5 minutes left to go and the game knotted up at 80 it was clear that this contest would have to go down to the wire. Orangeville turned to James Karnik while Bill Crothers relied on Jayden Coke to provide offense. Each score in the paint was answered with a layup on the other end and when one side scored from beyond the arc, the other also made it splash in response. Both sides traded baskets right down to the final 60 seconds where they found themselves tied at 93. Bill Crothers’ Fraser put the pressure on Orangeville with a quick-trigger 3-pointer helping his team to a 96-93 lead with 49.0 secs remaining. On the other end Aaryn Rai cleaned up a missed three-pointer to bring Orangeville within one point, 96-95 with 32.4 secs on the clock. Bill Crothers quickly inbounded the ball to their floor general Stefan Smith, who used a nice hesitation dribble to free himself of his defender and drop the finger roll with 18.9 seconds remaining to bring the lead to 3, 98-95. Out of a timeout Orangeville looked to Ignas Brazdeikis who came off a baseline screen and chucked up a contested three-pointer that went long and fell into the hands of Emmanuel Miller, who was quickly fouled with 11.7 secs on the clock. On the next possession, Orangeville’s Junior Farquhar managed to come up with a steal and got the ball over to Aaryn Rai who had a 3-point attempt to tie the game but the shot clanked off the backboard then rim. The buzzer sounded before Ignas Brazdeikis had another attempt and Bill Crothers escaped with the 98-95 win in a thriller at Bill Crothers Secondary School.
Bill Crothers S.S. continues their charge to the top of the OSBA standings and have put every team on notice after beating the only remaining undefeated team in the league. Now 3 teams sit atop the OSBA standings with one loss each, Athlete Institute Prep (13-1) Orangeville Prep (11-1), and Bill Crothers (8-1).
They are back on the road for their next game as they visit Thornlea S.S on Feb 22nd, tip-off at 4:30pm. Following Orangeville Prep’s first loss of the season, they take a step back in the standings but are still very much a team most squads would prefer to avoid. Their next contest comes on the road against Lincoln Prep on February 22nd, tip-off scheduled for 7pm.