BINGHAMTON, NY — The Oppenheim-Ephratah/St Johnsville Wolfpack came to Binghamton to win a state title. They will have a chance to do that after fourth quarter theatrics set them up to defeat Panama in overtime 61-57.
In the first quarter Panama couldn’t hit a shot if their lives depended on it. They scored six points in the quarter, all of which were from the free throw line. This allowed OESJ to methodically run their offense and run the score up to 15-6. Tyler Leon led the Wolfpack with six.
In the second quarter Panama put some pressure on the Wolfpack. They got physical in the paint, eliminating Leon from the equation. Then on the offensive end, they hit three triples as a part of a 14-6 run to end the half with a one point deficit 21-20.
In the third Panama made an early push with the three ball but could only make it to a five point lead. OESJ easily cut that deficit back to one with seven points scored by Tyler Leon.
OESJ and Panama battled back and forth in the early part of the fourth quarter, led by Tyler Leon and Cameron Barmore from Panama. By the final half minute of the game OESJ found themselves down 1 point and without the ball. They decide to foul Cameron Barmore. Barmore hit the first one but as he missed the second a Wolfpack rebounder crossed the line early, giving him another opportunity that he made to put Panama up three points. Down three, both Zach Mosher and Jack Brundage missed three point attempts on the ensuing possession before Panama corralled a board and got fouled. Jack Sperry only hit the first which gave OESJ one last chance.
OESJ’s first shot attempt was blocked but Jack Brundage kept after the ball, poking it out to Tyler Leon. Leon seeing his foot was on the line, faded onto his back foot and threw up a three pointer on which he was fouled. Despite an ugly wobble to it’s flight path, the ball easily found it’s way through the net, setting him up for a four point game tying play. Panama tried to ice Leon with a timeout but it had no effect as he made the free throw with ease and sent the game to overtime.
Tyler Leon said, “The timeout helped a lot. It calmed me down because this was crazy.”
The Wolfpack found an unlikely hero in the overtime period in Chris Martin. He came off of the bench after not scoring in regulation and had a key five points including the go ahead three pointer. Jack Brundage put up six more points and OESJ finally pulled away, winning 61-57.
“In practice he was tearing the guys up and Bucky said to him ‘Chris don’t be afraid to tear these guys up like you do in practice,’” said Coach Brundage.
OESJ will play again in the State Final against Section 10’s Harrisville Pirates Sunday at 2.
“This is an example of what happens when you don’t give up,” said Coach Brundage.