DOWNINGTOWN — The rubber match between Coatesville and Downingtown West on Tuesday promised to be an affair worthy of the stakes on the line. They didn’t disappoint.
In a game that will be remembered for a very long time by all that were crammed into Wagner Gymnasium, Downingtown West battled back from a nine-point deficit at the end of the third period to tie the game in regulation before stunning Coatesville, 70-63, in a double overtime classic in a District 1 Class AAAA Consolation game.
Both teams gave everything they had before a loud and impassioned crowd. The win ends Coatesville’s season and puts the Whippets into the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs for the first time since 2008. Downingtown West will host Penncrest on Friday at 7 p.m. in the 9-10 game.
Ryan Betley led all scorers with 31 points, including five 3-pointers, Josh Warren added 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and Dom Guerrrera added 12 for the victorious Whippets (23-5). West outscored Coatesville 17-10 in the decisive second overtime.
“This is just an incredible feeling to be going to states after a win against a great team like Coatesville,’ Guerrera said. “We got behind, but we never stopped believing we could come back tonight. And I want to say that Coatesville is a great team and they played really hard.’
Coatesville (17-10) held a 40-31 lead after three periods as they used its deeper bench to fulladvantage. Kevin Crutchfield was key for the Red Raiders, scoring 12 points before fouling out early in the fourth. John Rodriguez had 13 points and Justus Martinez played a strong game underneath with 13 points and six rebounds.
Downingtown West fought its way back and tied the at 48-48 on a Ryan Betley three with 12 seconds left. Coatesville had a chance to win in regulation, but Rome Boyer’s driving layup fell off the rim and the teams headed to overtime.
Foul shooting plagued both teams, Coatesville missed six free throws in a row in the fourth period and lifted the lid off the coffin for the Whippets. West went 26-of-44 (59 percent) from the line.
In overtime, after Coatesville jumped out to a lead, Doug Conrad made his first shot of the game count as he buried a long 3-ball from behind the key and the Whippets had a 51-51 tie with 1:40 to play.
Both teams traded missed shots before Boyer put Coatesville ahead with a running 10-footer to make it 53-51 with eight seconds left. Guererra rolled to to the hoop for a layup with three seconds remaining. Coatesville then threw the ball away on the inbounds pass and Guerrera had a chance to end things as he went strong to the basket, but his layup rimmed out and a second extra session was ahead.
“I do not know what happened on the layup,’ Guererra said. “I didn’t know whether to dunk it or not and I messed it up.’
Betley started things out well for the Whippets in the second OT as he hit a three for a 56-53 advantage. Amir Ealey went to the basket, but Warren blocked his shot and Guerrera picked it up, got fouled and hit both free throws to make it 58-53.
The lead went to 59-55 with 2:30 to play after Betley hit one of two free throws. Ealey scored inside and got fouled, the resultant free throw shaved the lead to 59-58 with 2:08 left.
Warren would not be denied as scored from in close to restore a three-point advantage with 1:14 left.
“We worked too hard in the offseason and the seniors did not want to go out this way, to quit after three periods,’ Warren said. “We wanted a rematch game with them and we showed why we were the Ches-Mont champs. There is no quit in this team.’
The two teams then traded missed foul shots until made a pair with 35 seconds left. However, Rodriguez however brought Coatesville to life with a long three to make it 65-63 with 22 seconds left.
The Whippets showed cool at the line in the final moments as Coatesville missed its final attempt and studens and players celebrated a trip to the state playoffs.
“I said all along that it would take more than a Coatesville run to knock out the champs of the Ches-Mont,’ Downingtown West coach Jason Ritter said. “We took their shot and came back. And Josh did a great job on the boards for us. He is the best player in this league and there is nobody that is even close.’
The Coatesville locker room remained closed for a long time as they tried to absorb the heartbreaking defeat.
“We missed some big free throws that hurt us,’ Moore said. “But give Downingtown (West) credit. It is their turn and I hope that do well in the state tournament.’