QUAKERTOWN >> Excitement, not exhaustion, was the bigger concern for Derian Bradford after the Faith Christian boys basketball team went an 16 additional minutes before finally outlasting Phil-Mont Christian Thursday night.
“I might have too much adrenaline to sleep tonight,” Bradford said.
The second-seeded Lions rallied for nine points down at the start of the fourth quarter to lead by two late in regulation, but the Falcons’ Lyle Tipton’s putback at the buzzer forced overtime.
The BAL Constitution rivals needed four extra sessions to ultimately decide their District 1 Class A semifinal and despite a 40-point effort from Tipton, second-seeded Faith found a way to claim 65-60 marathon victory over No. 3 Phil-Mont at Quakertown Community High School.
“That was the craziest game I’ve ever played in, for sure,” Bradford said.
Bradford went off for 30 points, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter then another 10 in the overtimes as the defending district champ Lions (15-10) advanced to the 1A final to face top-seeded Girard College – a 45-35 winner over No. 4 Plumstead Christian – noon Saturday at Harriton. Both Faith and Girard clinched PIAA berths with their semifinal victories.
“I had to give my team credit because they were resilient,” Faith Christian coach Tony DaCosta said. “they showed heart as former champions do and when plays need to be made at the very end, they made the right plays that need to be made. I just wished they would of made them earlier.”
Bradford gave Faith the lead for good, driving in from the wing to make it 60-58 in the fourth overtime after Owen Bradford chased down an offensive rebound. A Derian Bradford free throw at 2:50 pushed the advantage to three.
“I missed the last six games with a wrist injury so I had fresh legs, which kind of helped,” Derian Bradford said. “Everybody else has been playing a lot of games but I just came back so my legs are fresh.”
Tipton knocked down a jumper to get the Falcons within one. But those were Phil-Mont’s final points and FCA pulled away from the foul line to put an end to the game after 48 minutes.
“This is about survival, this is about moving on,” DaCosta said. “Yeah, we can play the perfect game and lose and that wouldn’t make me happy or I can be frustrated with an imperfect game and get a win so guess what I’ll take the imperfect game with the win.”
Phil-Mont Christian’s Daniel Olinger connected on four 3-pointers – three in the third quarter – to finish with 12 points as the Falcons (15-10) fell to Faith Christian for a third time this season despite a tremendous performance from Tipton. The senior scored 13 points in the first quarter, the last three on a half-court buzzer-beater – then scored 16 of PMCA’s 19 points in the four extra periods.
“We gave everything we had but it’s more frustrating cause these seniors we’ve been playing together for some of us over like 15 years, like we were toddlers,” Tipton said. “And seeing that come to a close is disappointing.”
Faith beat Phil-Mont convincing in their two previous matchups this year – a 56-35 on Jan. 8 then 80-06 on Feb. 5 – but back-to-back 3-pointers Trevor Tipton and Olinger had the Falcons up 34-24 in the third before a Bradford free throw with 7.1 seconds left put the margin at nine entering the fourth.
“Our guys are great, their commitment has been unbelievable,” Phil-Mont Christian coach Glenn Dolton said. “I’m just really proud of them. We had two tough games with them earlier where they handled us pretty well and we been kind of waiting to get to this point. You know, it’s a tough way to lose but we’re going to accept it and be ready to move on.”
Phil-Mont was still up seven after two Lyle Tipton free throws at 5:22 made it 36-29 but Falcon turnovers helped fuel a 9-0 Faith run – Derian Bradford scoring the last seven with his three giving the Lions a 38-36 lead.
Lyle Tipton’s 3-point play at 2:01 edged Phil-Mont back ahead 41-39 but Derian Bradford answered with a 3-point play on a baseline jumper with 1:50 remaining.
“We just had to attack the basket more,” Derian Bradford said. “Our zone offense wasn’t really working and we weren’t finding ways to score so start of the fourth we had to start attacking the basket and scoring more.”
Still holding a 41-39 lead, Faith missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 35.5 seconds left. A Lyle Tipton jumper was off, but the Falcons forced a jump ball to keep possession at 23.4 seconds.
Another shot by Lyle Tipton off a drive wouldn’t go down but the ball went out of bounds of Faith with 9.7 ticks to go. The senior’s running jumper from the foul line was off target but he grabbed his own miss and with one arm banked in a putback before the buzzer.
“I drove in a missed the first layup and I didn’t really know, there was like three seconds left of whatever, I just kind of grabbed it and threw it up and it somehow went in,” Lyle Tipton said.
With the game tied 50-50 in the first overtime, Derian Bradford was fouled with 5.5 seconds left and hit both ends of a 1-and-1. But the Lions fouled Lyle Tipton in the backcourt at 4.6 seconds and he converted twice on a 1-1 to knot things at 52.
The Lions were called for a backcourt violation, giving Phil-Mont a chance to win with 1.8 ticks on the clocks. Lyle Tipton got off a 3-pointer, but the shot went long.
“Both teams were getting real tired but we were hoping if we kept pushing we’d eventually pull it out,” Lyle Tipton said. “But yeah we never really did get that final push.”
In the second OT, a Owen Bradford putback gave Faith a 56-54 lead before Lyle Tipton’s two free throws with 1:19 had PMCA back level. Faith held for the final shot, but Derian Bradford’s jumper missed and Lyle Tipton blocked John Camiola’s putback try.
Both teams only scored two points each in the OT – Camiola driving to give Faith a 58-56 advantage until Lyle Tipton’s double-clutch jumper made it 58-all.
The Lions again had a chance to claim the win, but Owen Bradford’s fadeaway jumper from the foul line bounced off the rim. FCA’s Josh Forker grabbed the offensive rebound, but couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
“I feel like we had control of the game,” Derian Bradford said. “Lyle was the only one shooting and he had four fouls, I feel like he was going to get tired at some point. And feel like we had control of the game which helped us.”
Lyle Tipton got off the fast start with 13 points in the first quarter – giving Phil-Mont at 16-13 lead by banking in a half-court buzzer-beater after Michael DiBendetto’s stealing a Faith inbounds.
A putback by Lyle Tipton had Phil-Mont up 20-15 in the second quarter before the Lions scored the half’s final four points to get within 20-19 at the break.
In the third, Owen Bradford’s three had Phil-Mont back within a point at 23-22 but the Falcons answered with an 11-2 run – Ohlinger’s third triple of the quarter pushing the Phil-Mont lead to 34-24.
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