ORAN -- It seems every time Bell City plays Oran, the first 31 minutes of the game are worthless. The two Class 1 powers always take it down to the wire, and the game is decided in the final seconds.
On Friday night, in the semifinal round of the Oran Tournament, the two schools lived up to tradition.
Oran's Garrett Roslen hit a short jumper in the final seconds of overtime, giving the Eagles a thrilling 63-62 win over the defending 1A state champs.
"We came out to win the ballgame," said Oran head coach Mitch Wood. "(Bell City) put forth a great effort. They came out and played like state champions tonight. I was really impressed with the way they played, but at the same time, I feel we outplayed them."
For whatever reason, the two teams match up extremely well. They met four times last year, with Oran winning the first two and Bell City taking the second two. Three of the four came down to the final minutes.
"I really think our kids are better basketball players, and Oran's kids are just stronger," said Bell City head coach David Heeb. "It depends on the style of officiating. In games where they've called the grabs and the holds, we've been more fortunate. In a more physical style of game, they've been more fortunate. I'm not being critical of the officials, I thought it was fair both ways. We're not big enough to wrestle with them, but if we get to play basketball, I think we're probably the better team."
The match up had a playoff-like atmosphere, with the Oran gymnasium filled to capacity with vocal fans. Due to the snow outside being tracked in, water on the court was a constant problem, with players slipping and sliding the entire game. Oran had a chance to win in regulation. With the score tied 56-56, Nathan Seyer stood at the free throw line with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock.
He missed on both attempts, forcing the extra period.
"That wasn't any big deal to us," said Wood. "I've seen him miss a lot and I've seen him make a lot. What I like about him is he doesn't let it bother him much. He comes back out ready to play when the bell rings."
Seyer played a large role in Oran's win, finishing with 21 points on the night. Senior Patrick Friga was also a major factor off the bench, scoring a game-high 23 points. Standout Ryne Wood was held to two points.
"Pat Friga came in, had 23 points and did a heck of a job," said Wood. "Nobody figured that. That's the type of ballclub we are. Tomorrow night, it may be (Tyler) Cookson, or Ryne might come back and have a big game. You never know."
For Bell City, the game was a series of missed opportunities. The Cubs missed four crucial free throws in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over four times down the stretch. "The missed free throws really hurt us," said Heeb. "We got lucky when they missed those two at the end of regulation. We made some mistakes. We're far from perfect now, but our kids were in this exact same situation a year ago. We seemed to finish up pretty good last year, so hopefully we can bounce back."
Point guard Dominitrix Johnson led the way for Bell City with 22 points, followed by Eric Henry with 16. Kenyon Wright contributed nine points, hitting three 3-pointers.
"I thought it was a great high school basketball game," said Heeb. "I really tip my hat to Oran, I thought they played a super game. Both teams played really hard -- they had a little bit more down the stretch than we did."
The two schools are scheduled to play again Feb. 7 in Oran. They could also meet in the U-High and district tournaments. "We're going to meet at least one more time, and probably two or three more times," said Heeb. "It's hard to beat a good team three or four times in one year. If we've got to lose this one to come back and win the one that counts in the end, then we'll take it."
Oran played Twin Rivers in Saturday's championship game. Results will be in Monday's paper. Bell City played Kelly for third place.
Twin Rivers 59, Kelly 42
Top-seeded Twin Rivers advanced to the championship game, defeating Kelly 59-42.
Robbie Moore paced the Royals with 18 points, hitting 7-of-8 free throws. Matt Stanford scored 14 and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
For the Hawks, Major Burger was a one-man show. The senior point guard scored a game-high 22 points. After just one field goal in the first quarter, Burger exploded with 10 points in the second, five in the third, then five in the fourth.
Brooks Edmond hit two 3-pointers for the Hawks.
Twin Rivers played Oran in the championship game on Saturday, while Kelly took on Bell City for third place. Results from both games will be in Monday's paper.
Gideon 79, Richland 38
In Friday's consolation semifinals, Gideon defeated Richland 79-38.
The Rebels had no answer for 6-foot-5 center Chris Woodall, who led the Bulldogs with 28 points. Blake Davis hit four 3-pointers and finished with 20 points.
For Richland, Scott McGarity led the way with 18 points, hitting three treys. Timmy Griggeory contributed 10 points for the Rebels.
Gideon played Scott Central for the consolation championship on Saturday. Results will be in Monday's paper.