Late-game heroics keep Willamette alive in the first overtime, power Wildcats to 47-46 victory

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Adam Spencer fights his way toward the basket during the fourth quarter of Saturday's 47-46 2OT loss to Willamette. Before fouling out in the second overtime, Spencer put up seven points for St. Helens.Some methods of losing are just tougher than others. With just seconds remaining in the first overtime, St. Helens’ senior Tanner Long stepped to the line and hit the first, tying the game at 43. The second shot wasn’t so lucky, caroming off the iron as Willamette (1-4) escaped to win 47-46 in 2OT.

The loss is the fourth in a row for the Lions (2-4), who dropped all three games at the Barlow Trail Classic, but it was by far the most unsettling. Early on, it looked like the Wildcats might run away and hide. Perfect from inside the arc in the first period, Willamette led 14-9 before a late bucket from St. Helens pulled the Lions to within three.

The second quarter brought struggles for Willamette. St. Helens forced a plethora of turnovers, giving up only five field goal attempts in the period and holding the Wildcats to 40 percent shooting - down from 66 percent in the first. The Lions went on a 11-3 run to start the quarter and led by three midway through, but once again Willamette responded to take the lead at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to Long. Ten of his game-high 21 points came in the third, many of which came via senior post Cory West on the fast break. In spite of their half-court struggles, the Lions started to make headway, forcing misses on the defensive end and lobbing the ball forward to an open runner. Thanks to Long’s double digits, the Lions turned a three point deficit into a 34-31 lead going into the fourth.

Easy buckets on the break became a thing of the past in the fourth quarter for St. Helens. The Wildcats got a field goal from Adam Murray and a pair of free throws from Will Follmann to take a 37-35 lead, but Lions’ senior guard Adam Spencer stepped up and hit a pair of his own to knott the teams up once again. A wild in-bounds lob from Willamette went in the basket instead of finding a teammate, sending the game to overtime.

West controlled the paint for the first several minutes, collecting neat high-low passes for a pair of easy layups, while also hitting one of two from the line. St. Helens led 42-39 with less than 30 seconds remaining, but Willamette hadn’t run out of heroics.

This time, it was Follmann once again. With his team trailing and time running out, Follmann heaved a desperation three-pointer from the corner, nailing the shot and bumping Helgerson on his way to the floor. Follmann connected on the freebee, forcing the Lions to respond with a point from Long at the line with seconds remaining in the extra period.

Long was the lone scorer in the second overtime, finishing a three point play to give the Lions a 46-45 lead, but it wouldn’t stand. Willamette’s Cam Ferguson snuck behind the defense and sunk an easy bucket to lift the Wildcats over St. Helens for their first victory of the season.

Long and West led the Lions in scoring, finishing with 21 and 12 points respectively. Spencer had seven points before fouling out late in the second overtime. St. Helens will have a few days off before visiting Madison on Jan. 4.


St. Helens 46

Willamette 47

SHL 11 9 14 3 5 3 - 46

WLW 14 9 8 6 5 4 - 47

St. Helens 46 - Long 21, West 12, Spencer 7, Poorman 2, Helgerson 2, Teyema 2

Willamette 47 - Follmann 11, Ferguson 10, Murray 8, Guldanger 6, McGarry 4, Steiner 2, Goddard 2, Wyatt 2

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