Throughout the earlier games of the day Saturday, the Bishop Montgomery and Harvard-Westlake game at the Take Flight Challenge was billed as the “Game of the Year.”
It still early to claim that label, but the teams certainly delivered a worthy candidate.
Harvard-Westlake jumped out to an early lead, Bishop Montgomery rallied to take the lead and then the teams had to go three overtimes to settle things.
In the end, the Wolverines (18-1) escaped with a 74-66 triple overtime win over the Knights (18-1).
“That had (CIF-Southern Section) Open Division all over it,” Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo said. “That’s a heck of a team. You can’t leave that game and not feel like whoever won or loss was going to win.
“Both teams won, that’s the bottomline.”
The Wolverines led 21-8 after the first quarter, but the Knights fought and clawed their way back into the game trailing 28-24 at halftime.
In the third quarter, a four-point play by LaQwon Cole gave the Knights their first lead at 31-29.
The back-and-forth swings were only just beginning.
In the fourth, the Knights had a six-point lead (45-39), but with less than two minutes remaining, Brady Dunlap knocked home a pair of free throws for a 50-49 lead. Will Smith answered with a 3-point field goal to give Bishop Montgomery a 52-50 lead, but Trent Perry tied it.
The Knights had possession and a chance to win at the end of regulation, but a Will Smith baseline jumper was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, the Knights led 56-52, but Dunlap again responded with four consecutive points.
Bishop Montgomery had six seconds remaining to find the winner and eventually Kelcy Phipps got off an off-balanced 3-point attempt off the backboard, but it didn’t go down, sending the game into a second overtime.
The second overtime was almost a carbon copy of the first. Kelcy Phipps hit two tough layups to give the Knights a 60-56 lead and later he added another that again gave the Knights a four-point lead.
Dunlap again responded with consecutive baskets and the game would head to a third overtime tied at 62.
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After trading baskets early in the third overtime, the Wolverines took control scoring six consecutive points to take a 70-64 lead.
Dunlap led Harvard-Westlake with 38 points. Will Smith led Bishop Montgomery with 22 points.
“I thought we had the game won two or three times, to be honest with you,” Bishop Montgomery coach Doug Mitchell said. “We know they’re a tough team. We played some good people, but maybe not an Open (Division) level team …It was a good environment, good learning experience, we haven’t had a game quite like that this year.
“I was proud of the way they fought back when they got down, but I’m disappointed because I thought we had the game wrapped up.”