Raiders topple Cats in overtime thriller

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
The Southridge Raiders celebrate their win in the locker room after Saturday's boys basketball game in Jasper. The Raiders defeated the Wildcats 40-38 in overtime for their first victory over Jasper since December 12, 2012. After missing several important free throws near the end of regulation, Matt Price and Colson Montgomery hit clutch shots from the charity stripe in overtime to win the game for the Raiders. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — Colson Montgomery had been in this situation before — in fact, the Southridge boys basketball player had encountered nearly the exact same scenario earlier in Saturday night’s county rivalry game against Jasper.

After drawing a charge with about two seconds left in regulation, Montgomery went to the free-throw line with the game tied at 38-38. With the Raiders in the bonus, if Montgomery made the first free throw he’d get a chance at a second one to possibly put Southridge up by two points. However, Montgomery missed the first shot which sent the game into overtime.

While the Raiders held the ball for the majority of the overtime period, they did get two chances at the free-throw line. With 1:38 left, Southridge guard Matt Price knocked down one of two shots to put the Raiders up 39-38 and after Jasper didn’t score on the ensuing possession Montgomery was fouled and sent to the line. Wanting to give the Raiders as much cushion as possible with 12 seconds left remaining, he tried to forget about what had happened in the fourth quarter.

“My dad and my coaches always taught me to have a short-term memory,” said Montgomery, who knocked down one of two shots from the charity stripes as Southridge hung on for a 40-38 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday night. The victory was Southridge’s first over Jasper since December 12, 2012. “If you miss a big free throw or game-winning shot, you just have to bounce back and my teammates helped me bounce back.”

Southridge head coach Mark Rohrer was very impressed with the way his team has started to come together and how they fought through their 14 turnovers, low free throw shooting percentage and the tough opposing crowd for their sixth straight victory.

These tough games not only have made the Raiders battle-tested in the early going but they’ve also helped to make the team more unified when games come down to the final possession.

“I just love how when we had some individual tough moments tonight, you saw every single guy picking up their teammates and there’s just so much togetherness with this group,” Rohrer said. “Basketball is a tough, physical game and you have to be tough in those adverse situations. We knew that if we were able to execute then the ball would bounce our way and that’s exactly what happened.”

Southridge (9-4) came into the fourth quarter with a 32-30 lead but Jasper (9-3) quickly took the lead just 15 seconds into the period with an and-one from Reece Milligan. Southridge took back the lead on a shot from Garrett Voegerl with 6:04 left but Jasper once again regained the lead at the 4:18 mark thanks to two big shots from the free-throw line by Milligan.

Montgomery’s 18th point of the night tied things up for the Raiders with 2:57 left in regulation and from there, both teams tried to do their best to ensure they’d get the final shot. Jasper had several chances to take the lead late but several missed free throws and a few missed shots around the bucket ensured that the game would remain tied. The Raiders had the final possession of regulation as Montgomery drew a foul call on Jasper’s Phillip Noblitt. However, Montgomery’s free throw was no good and the game went to overtime.

“We felt lucky to even be in overtime,” Jasper head coach John Goebel said. “We had opportunities toward the end of regulation to win — we missed the front end of two bonuses, we missed two more free throws and we missed a close shot under the bucket so there’s eight points right there that we gave away. Instead of playing with a four or five-point lead, the game is tied and it’s a whole different ball game.”

In the overtime period, Southridge looked to milk the clock and hold the ball for as long as they could. Price and Montgomery both made one-of-two shots from the charity stripe to give the Raiders a 40-38 lead with eight seconds left. The Wildcats did get one more look as the buzzer sounded but Milligan’s three-pointer fell short and the Raiders came away with the win.

Southridge's Colson Montgomery attempts to make a basket while being blocked by Jasper's Quentin Harmon during Saturday's boys basketball game in Jasper. Montgomery led the Raiders in scoring with 19 points while Reece Milligan (14) and Jackson Kabrick (12) both finished in double-figures for the Wildcats. For more photos from the game, click here.

“We just wanted to make sure we didn’t lose our composure,” said Montgomery. “We wanted to keep playing our hard-nosed defense in overtime and make sure we didn’t turn the ball over. Coach (Rohrer) told us to keep our heads up but most importantly, hit our free throws.”

Price added: “Overtime was a fresh start for us and we knew we had to lock in and get the job done — you have to do it for the people in the crowd, your teammates there beside you and just knock (the free throw) down for the city.”

Colson Montgomery led Southridge with 19 points (including two dunks) and 10 rebounds, Matt Price finished with seven points and Jaden Hayes added six points and seven rebounds.

Reece Milligan led the Wildcats with 14 points and five rebounds while Jackson Kabrick added 12 points and Quentin Harmon and Phillip Noblitt both finished with five points each.

Both teams struggled to hit their shots from the free-throw line — Southridge shot 40 percent (8-of-20) while Jasper finished at 38 percent (3-of-8).

Both teams feel that they learned a lot about themselves from a close game like this. For Goebel and the Wildcats, they’re not going to let a loss ruin their 9-3 start to the season and still have plenty of excitement for what’s to come.

“In the whole scheme of things this isn’t an important loss,” Goebel said. “It’s not a conference loss, it’s not a tournament game, it is a loss against a county rival which is tough but we’re not going to let it change our season. We’re not going to throw in the towel or cry about it, we’re just going to learn from it and get ready for Forest Park next week.”

For Rohrer and the Raiders, the atmosphere of this game and the tough opponent they faced will help prepare them of something they could possibly see once the postseason tournament runs around.

“Jasper is such a disciplined, well-coached basketball team with a lot of really good players and they probably don’t get the respect they deserve,” Rohrer said. “For us to find a way to make enough plays and hold them in the 30s makes me love where we are at on the defensive end. We needed to see a team who guarded as well as they did — I’m really proud of our guys and how they were able to hold their composure at the end.”

More on