By: Jesse Nadelman- Staff Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – All season long, Pine Crest has been looking for a marquee win.
The Panthers came close a few times, most notably leading No. 13 University School late before falling at the Kreul Classic, and also leading Edgewater (Orlando) before losing in overtime.
Friday night, however, was different.
Pine Crest rallied back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually take down rival No. 5 Saint Andrew’s, 61-59, in front of a rowdy home crowd on Friday night.
“We haven’t played four quarters of basketball,” Pine Crest head coach Barry Conners said after the game. “I think at the end of the day, we have started to play complete games, but what it’s attributed to is that the kids are starting to trust each other, they’re starting to buy in.”
Pine Crest (14-7) fell down 45-36 early in the fourth quarter and then 54-47 with 2:45 left, but the Panthers didn’t quit.
Scotty Pippen was key down the stretch as Pine Crest orchestrated a 7-0 run to end the fourth quarter. and send the game to overtime – where the Panthers would prevail – tied at 54. Miles Polley drew a charge on what would’ve been a game-winning basket by Ryan McAdoo in the final seconds of regulation.
“One of the things we talked about the last two days is ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low’,” Conners said. “We knew they were going to go on a run, we’re going to go on a run, but I think when we were down seven the kids just said ‘Buckle up and let’s go’.”
Pippen, the 5-11 sophomore guard, scored seven of his twelve points in the final quarter and overtime to held lead his team to a win.
Sophomore guard Alejandro Ralat knocked down a floater to put Saint Andrew’s up 59-58 on Pine Crest with 35 seconds left in overtime, but Brett Haeffner – the 6-10 senior who, along with his twin brother A.J., transferred from Saint Andrew’s to PC for his senior year – got revenge on his former team, hitting what would be the game-winning jumper with 10 seconds left.
“I’m not going to lie tonight was a special game because of the rivalry and the Haeffners being from Saint Andrew’s,” Conners said. “It makes it an emotional game. But the reality is we have to try and find that emotion and bring it to the next game.”
Chris Marzouca would later hit a free throw to make it a two-point lead after a traveling call on Anthony Polite, before Saint Andrew’s didn’t get a shot off on the final possession.
Saint Andrew’s (21-2) came in on a high note, having just beaten No. 4 Calvary Christian on the road to earn legendary coach John O’Connell his 600th career win.
6-10 senior twin A.J. Haeffner also had 12 points for Pine Crest, while Marzouca added eight points and seven assists.
Pine Crest jumped out to a 19-7 lead after one and 28-17 in the second quarter before Saint Andrew’s went on a 16-2 run to take a 33-30 lead in the third quarter.
“[It helped with] confidence,” Conners said of jumping out to the early lead. “It didn’t matter, but it gives you the confidence that you can play. And we settled down and played.”
Polite – the star 6-6 guard who is headed to play at Florida State – was held to just 12 points, while junior point guard Jammy Pierre-Louis had 11 points for the Scots.
R.M.F. Player of the Game
When Pine Crest needed him most, Scotty Pippen turned it on. The 5-11 sophomore guard continued his stellar season, leading a late charge by the Panthers to rally back and get the win.
Pippen finished with 12 points and four steals, having scored seven of the Panthers last 14 points.
Pippen’s efforts earned him honors as the R.M.F. Player of the Game, his second time capturing the award this season.
“I feel like I just became more aggressive towards the end of the game,” Pippen said. “I put the team on my back. We had the momentum on my side and we came back on got the win.”
Saint Andrew’s: The Scots will look to bounce back on senior night Monday against Ransom Everglades.
Pine Crest: The Panthers go for their ninth straight on Monday on the road against Highlands Christian.
ABOUT THE REPORTER
Jesse Nadelman is a 17-year old reporter for R.M.F. Magazine who currently is a senior at North Broward Prep. Growing up in South Florida, Jesse has grown an intense passion for sports media. He covers all of South Florida’s top high school basketball teams and events for R.M.F. In addition to contributing to R.M.F, Jesse also writes for FloridaHSFootball.com, covering South Florida High School Football, and contributes to a variety of other outlets.
You could follow Jesse on twitter: @Jessenadelman