As the Cascade Christian Cougars boys basketball team clung to a one-point lead in overtime Friday night against the Life Christian Eagles, the outcome rested squarely on the shoulders of Eagles senior guard Chris Anderson with no time remaining on the clock.
Anderson, who was fouled by Cougars guard Jordan Tveter at the buzzer as he made a layup, walked to the free-throw line with a chance to send the game into double overtime.
But Anderson’s attempt hit the left side of the rim and bounced out, and the Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak with a 71-70 victory.
“I was preparing our team for double overtime,” Cougars head coach Jerry Williams said. “You never assume that someone is going to miss a free throw like that. He missed it, and we were fortunate enough to get the win.”
The Cougars (9-6 overall) led 54-40 after three quarters but watched their lead evaporate in the fourth. Things looked bleak when senior center Shawn Spencer fouled out with 27.5 seconds left in regulation, when Cascade Christian led 64-60.
Life Christian scored the final four points of the quarter and had all the momentum as both teams prepared for overtime.
Cougars reserve Colton Rayburn gave his team the lead for good, 69-68, with a layup in the paint with a minute left in overtime.
Senior forward Jacob Kushan, who poured in a team-high 26 points, extended the Cougars’ lead to three when he knocked down two free throws with 9.9 seconds left.
Anderson got the Eagles within one with his buzzer-beater, but he couldn’t convert the three-point play to force a second extra session.
Kushan said his team isn’t fazed by pressure situations.
“We had to piece it together, and we knew we could do it because we’ve done it before,” he said. “We just had to persevere. We got it done.”
Williams said his team overcame obstacles to capture the win.
“We faced a lot of adversity tonight,” the coach said. “Shawn (Spencer) wasn’t in foul trouble early, but in the second half, he got in foul trouble and we lost him. I’m sure, at that point in time, Life (Christian) probably thought they had a pretty good chance to beat us.
“Our guys pulled together. That is what you’ve got to do as a team. That helps you become a very good team.”
Williams said the Cougars have been on both sides of close games.
“Hopefully this will help us learn to win the rest of our close games the rest of the way,” he said.
Cascade Christian got key contributions from its role players. Rayburn came off the bench to score 12 points, none bigger than his field goal in OT.
“Colton (Rayburn) had a great game for us tonight,” Williams said. “He hit some open shots, had some key rebounds and had a huge bucket in overtime for us. He was a big reason why we won the game tonight for sure.”