RANDOLPH — For 31 and half minutes, coach Kevin Hind's Randolph Cardinals did almost everything they could to keep visiting Allegany-Limestone from seeing open looks at the three-point line.
Playing a 1-3-1 zone much of the night, the Cardinals held A-L to just two three-pointers in three quarters and took a 39-35 lead into the fourth. But on the biggest possession of the night for the Gators in a matchup of CCAA East I division heavyweights, senior Sam Flanders found his way open in the left corner around a screen from Conner Golley and buried a three-pointer, giving A-L a two-point lead with 17 seconds remaining and an eventual 53-51 victory.
After calling a timeout trailing 51-50 with 21.8 seconds to play, Gators coach Glenn Anderson started to draw up a sideline play, only to find out his team had a baseline inbounds instead.
"Initially, we were thinking we had (inbounds) on the sideline, so we had something drawn up," Anderson said. "Then we found out last second this was baseline out of bounds. We changed it, drew something up real quick and it's a play we run quite a bit and Coach (Hind) called it out, he knew what was coming and Sam just made a great shot. He had a good screen on the baseline from Conner."
Flanders, who finished with 15 points and four steals, made three of his team's four three-pointers on the night, two in the fourth quarter.
“I think we're pretty versatile across all our positions,” Anderson said of Randolph’s three-point defense. “Casey (Curran) can hit inside and out, so you have to extend out on him and you extend out on shooters and as long as they are, when you extend that far, that's going to leave driving lanes and passing lanes so we can get the ball inside a little bit. Our passing ability once we hit the high post was huge.”
Golley posted a double-double on 10 points and 10 rebounds with five assists and Curran added 10 points of his own.
The Cardinals (8-3, 2-1) had a chance to tie the game as star junior guard Tyler Hind drew a shooting foul on his drive to the basket with 1.4 seconds remaining. But the sharpshooting Hind, who finished with 15 points, six assists and seven steals, had an uncharacteristic miss on the first shot and intentionally missed the second, hoping for an offensive rebound, which senior Andrew Bernard got a hand on but couldn’t control long enough to put back and tie the game.
"They've got a lot of athletes," Kevin Hind said of A-L's defense. "They're deep, they've got athletes, they've got guys that are quick. They threw some different defenses at us. They tried to make everything hard for Ty, they did a good job of it. But you're at the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game at the buzzer against one of the top teams in Class B. We were right there."
Kaleb Steward had four rebounds for Randolph. The Cardinals got nine points from their bench, but only one starter (Hind) reached double-figures. And the Gators (8-1, 3-0) were more than pleased to hold Randolph’s star to 15, well below his average.
“He's a great player,” Anderson said of Hind. “Great is an understatement. He just makes so many tough shots and for us to hold him to 15 is a great job by Ben Giardini and Jayden Gustafson, all those guys that are stepping up and helping too off of ball-screens and and off of dribble handoffs.”
The Gators took an early 7-0 lead, prompting a Randolph timeout. Randolph found its legs in the second quarter, when Hind scored 10 straight in a 13-2 run before a 24-24 halftime tie. Randolph led by as much as seven in the third quarter and A-L never led in the second half until 3:42 remained as Golley made a pair of free throws to go ahead 46-45.
With Randolph’s gymnasium at or near capacity, both schools brought big crowds for the matchup of East I powers and the “Cards Against Cancer” fundraiser, the contest delivered on its “Game of the Week” designation by Chad Andrews of the popular Western New York basketball site “The View From Centercourt.”
“It was a great game,” Kevin Hind said. “Every aspect of it was, other than the last shot that Flanders hit in the corner.
“My guys played hard. They played hard, they kept battling. They're a good team, they made it hard for us, but guys stepped up. Dawson Bosley comes off the bench and hits a three, Ty Rosengren hit two. We were struggling a little bit, but those were big, big buckets for us.”
Anderson said it “definitely” ranks among the Gators’ best road wins since he started coaching at A-L.
"This is the first win we've had here since we came back into this league (five years ago) and started playing them again," he added. "It's always tough to play here. It was packed tonight, it was a great atmosphere. I mean, we've been waiting for an atmosphere like that forever, that was awesome."
Giardini 4 0-1 9, Flanders 4 4-4 15, Gustafson 1 0-0 2, Golley 3 4-4 10, Carlson 2 1-2 5, Curran 5 0-0 10, Wolfgang 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 9-11 53.
Steward 2 2-4 7, Hind 6 0-2 15, Morrison 3 0-0 9, Rosengren 2 0-0 6, Bosley 1 0-0 3, McCoy 2 1-1 5, Bernard 3 0-0 6. Totals: 19 3-7 51.
Allegany-Limestone 15 24 35 53
Randolph 11 24 39 51
Three-point goals: A-L 4 (Flanders 3, Giardini), Randolph 10 (Steward, Hind 3, Morrison 3, Rosengren 2, Bosley). Total fouls: A-L 13, Randolph 16. Fouled out: None.
JV: A-L, 47-28.