PERRY — In front of a standing room only crowd, the Cal-Mum Red Raiders were able to outlast the Perry Yellowjackets, 79-77, in three overtimes in what will be known as a classic game, earlier tonight at Perry High School.
A matchup between the top two teams in both Livingston County Division II and Section V Class C2, Cal-Mum used a balanced attack to grind out the victory over the Yellowjackets.
“Everyone came together at the end and got the job done,” Cal-Mum guard Kurtis Haut said.
After the opening tip, it did not seem like Cal-Mum was going to need to come together at the end to get the victory. The Red Raiders took control early, led by Kyle Kline’s quick seven points, keying the Raiders to a 12-5 lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
Cal-Mum then extended their lead in the second quarter to 10 points. However, Livingston County’s top scorer and Perry senior guard, Anthony Ricotta, was not going down without a fight.
With under three minutes remaining in the first half, Ricotta had a 7-0 run of his own to bring Perry back within three at halftime. Then, when the teams returned from their locker rooms, Ricotta continued his hot shooting, hitting a deep 3-pointer to cap Perry’s 14-0 run, which gave them their first lead of the game at 34-30.
“He (Ricotta) is one heck of a player,” Cal-Mum head coach Dan Dickens said. “He is a scorer and so smooth. You don’t score as many points as he does unless you put the time into it.”
On Cal-Mum’s side, their top scorer, Steve Gaffney, was having a tough time getting open looks. Because of limited touches caused by face-guarding by the Yellowjackets, Gaffney was held scoreless most of regulation as both teams battled down the stretch.
Picking up the slack for Cal-Mum was Haut, Kline, and starting point guard Madison Suhr, who all finished in double-figures in points. However, it was Gaffney who tied the score at 53, by sinking the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12.1 seconds remaining in regulation, eventually leading to overtime.
In extra time, it was more of the same for Ricotta who scored opening baskets in all three overtime periods for Perry. However, Cal-Mum was the team with the lead heading into the final minute of the first two overtimes. But Perry fought back time and again.
With a three point Cal-Mum lead in the first overtime, Suhr missed two free throws. Then on the ensuing trip, Perry’s T.J. McGinnis, drained a three to tie the game at 63 and send it into double overtime.
Again up by three late in the second overtime, Suhr fouled Ricotta shooting a 3-pointer. Suhr, the main ball-handler for Cal-Mum, fouled out of the game and Ricotta made all three foul shots to send the game to triple overtime, with the game tied at 72.
“We did not do things to close out in the first two overtimes,” Dickens said.
“When Madison fouled out I thought we were done,” Gaffney said. “He had been bringing the ball up for us the entire game up to that point.”
Early in the third overtime, it seemed Cal-Mum squandered their chances of victory. Ricotta opened with five consecutive points while Cal-Mum could only manage one successful free throw by Justin Wade.
However, Gaffney decided it was Cal-Mum’s turn to battle back. With 1:26 remaining, Gaffney finished a layup in the lane to cut the lead to 2. Then after a defensive stop, Gaffney dished to Haut for another layup tying the game at 77.
Another overtime seemed inevitable. Both teams had players cramping up and made shots were hard to come by. However, Gaffney knew all he needed was one more basket.
With 10 seconds remaining, Gaffney drove the lane again, finishing with his left, putting Cal-Mum in the lead 79-77. A third consecutive defense stop then sealed the victory for the Raiders.
“To come out with that win, being down four in triple overtime is huge,” Dickens said.
Haut led Cal-Mum with 21 points, while Kline finished with 18, Suhr with 15, and Gaffney with 11.
Not to be overlooked was the performance by Anthony Ricotta. In the loss, Ricotta led all scorers with 45 points and 6 made threes.
Cal-Mum improves to 8-1 with the victory while Perry falls to 9-2. These teams will matchup again on Valentine’s Day in Caledonia.