A coin toss decided the venue for last night’s Area Tournament Semifinal between Randolph and St. John Paul II Catholic High School after the two teams split the series during the regular season. Each team won their game on the road, and the coin toss went the Falcons way, so the Raiders returned to the scene of their 60-57 win. This time the Randolph roster would include Carter Wimberly, who made his presence known in the paint on both ends of the court.
The game started with each team swapping three-pointers as Curtis Cooper, Andrew Hunter, and Sam Servick took their turns from behind the arc. Wimberly got the first of several of his three-point plays by making a basket while being fouled and converting the free throw. The Raiders ended the first quarter leading the Falcons, 18-10. The second quarter featured the Falcons heating up and several lead changes, with the Raiders retaking the lead 30-28 after a three by Hunter and again by Wimberly converting a three the old-fashioned way, allowing Randolph to take a 27-25 lead before the first half ended with the Raiders leading 30-28.
The battle continued in the third quarter to include another of Hunter’s threes and two more buckets by Wimberly that built the Randolph lead to 40-36. The Falcons quickly hit a three of their own, but then Hunter nailed his third three of the night and made this one while being fouled. His converted free throw made it a rare four-point play and a 46-40 lead with two minutes remaining in quarter three. The quarter ended on a high note that sent the Randolph bench into a frenzy as Cooper blocked a shot in the paint; Hunter fired a full-court pass to Wimberly, who made the catch and converted the lay-up in the same two steps under the basket. Randolph 50. JPII 43.
The Falcons heated up again from behind the arc in quarter four, but an incredible Servick pass to Hunter for a lay-up and a made free throw by Cooper made the score 53-50 with 3:30 left in regulation. A Falcons’ three cut the lead to 55-53 with 1:32 remaining and then came what some call the play of the game.
After being fouled, Sam Servick headed to the free-throw line to shoot a one-and-one with the Raiders leading 57-55 with 0:22.4 on the clock. After converting the first shot, Sam’s second shot was a miss, but Curtis Cooper’s hustle and quickness allowed him to beat JPII’s 6’7″ senior forward to grab the rebound and get the put back. This bucket gave Randolph the critical three-point lead going into the last twenty seconds of regulation. Otherwise, the Falcons’ three-pointer as the final buzzer sounded would have been for the win. Instead, it sent the semifinal into overtime.
JPII players and fans had to be cleared from the court while celebrating the tie. The gym’s vibe felt like the momentum may have just swung to the Falcons in a big way.
With 4:00 on the clock, a berth to the Area Championship and State Playoff was on the line. Head Coach Mike Morris spent all season heavily emphasizing defense during endless hours of practice, and it showed as the Raiders held the Falcons to just two points for the entirety of overtime. Hustle, rebounds, and crucial free throw conversions by Cooper (4), Wimberly (2), Servick (1), and a final one from Grayson Davenport were the last eight baskets made during the 70-62 Randolph victory.
Coach Morris had the following to say after the game, “I am so proud of how our guys competed and executed the entire game. We made play after play, and it was great seeing them experience some postseason success. I was extremely impressed with how our team responded in overtime after giving up the lead in regulation. We are excited about playing in the Area Championship game this Saturday vs. Westminster and Tuesday in the subregion game.”
Final stats on the night included scoring leaders: Wimberly (23 pts), Cooper (21), and Hunter (14), and holding the Falcons to two points in OT made for a complete game by the Raiders!
The Area Championship game at Westminster Christian Academy will take place on Saturday night at 6:00, and more details will be communicated soon after on the playoff game Tuesday. A limited amount of tickets to Saturday’s game can be purchased on the GoFan.co website and app starting at 4:00 tomorrow while they last.