Warrior Run down 30-3, wins in OT
TURBOTVILLE — Warrior Run point guard Cassidy Hoffman weaved by and around Hughesville defenders as the seconds ticked away. Nearly all night Warrior Run chased Hughesville, but now the Defenders commanded the action.
Less than a minute later Ahmahd Keyes blocked a last-second shot, held his arms high and sprinted the length of the court, sharing a special moment with his family. The pride parents felt for son was shared by Defender fans for their entire team after Warrior Run defied the odds in spectacular fashion. Warrior Run made the near-impossible become reality and pulled off the greatest comeback this area has seen in the 2000s.
Keyes put together a dominant second half, Hoffman sparked a swarming defense and Warrior Run erased a 27-point late second-quarter deficit Friday as it stunned defending District 4 Class AAA champion Hughesville, 44-40 in overtime. The Defenders (8-4, 2-2 HAC-III) outscored Hughesville, 41-10 over the final 21 minutes, 34 seconds, surrendered just two points in the fourth quarter, none in overtime and produced a win they will never forget.
“We have a bunch of killers out there,” Hoffman said. “We don’t care what it takes. We’re here to win.”
“We went into halftime and you could look in the faces of everyone in the locker room and just know we were ready to go,” Keyes said. “We were not just going to lay down. I believe in my guys and I believe in my senior leaders. I believe in all of us. We don’t quit. We fight to the end.”
Keyes (15 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals) put Warrior Run ahead to stay in overtime, hitting a difficult bank shot in the paint. He added a free throw a possession later, then grabbed the rebound after Hughesville missed a potential game-tying 3-point attempt with 15 seconds remaining. Hoffman then clinched the win, hitting a clutch foul shot. Keyes blocked a shot shortly before time expired, putting an exclamation point on a win that had Warrior Run’s students literally jumping for joy.
It left so many others in attendance wondering if this was all real. Warrior Run might have shocked those spectators and everyone who followed District 4 basketball Friday night, but it did not shock itself.
“Our kids are so resilient and they never believe they are out of it,” Warrior Run coach Eric Wertman said. “We talk about sticking together and being a team every day at practice and they stuck together. You’re going to go through adversity and you’re going to go through ups and downs and when it gets tough you have to stick together. They buckled down, stuck together and made good things happen.”
Warrior Run winning seemed about as unlikely as a politician conducting an honesty clinic when Hughesville built a 30-3 lead with 1:34 remaining in the first half. Hughesville (3-6, 1-2) played brilliant basketball on both ends and looked capable of recording a mercy-rule win after enduring a 15-day layoff. The Spartans seemingly could do no wrong and Warrior Run could do little right.
Hughesville scored the game’s first seven points, led 18-2 after the first quarter and built second-quarter leads of 28-2 and 30-3. Warrior Run missed 16 of its first 17 shots, went more than 10 minutes without scoring and endured an 11-minute stretch without a field goal. All the magic in the world did not seem capable of saving Warrior Run at that point.
“We called a timeout and I asked them what they want to do,” Wertman said. “Do you want to be here for a long night of a beating or do you want to step up and play?’ They responded and I could not be happier for these guys.”
Hoffman started everything. Following a Kade Anzulavich jumper that ended the field-goal drought, Hoffman forced consecutive turnovers. He scored four quick points and then found Anzulavich inside in the final two seconds, setting up two foul shots that made it 30-11 at halftime. It might not have seemed like much, but the foundation for a nightmare becoming a dream had been laid. Instead of staggering into the half, Warrior Run felt reborn.
“We were down 30-3 and it was embarrassing. At that point the only thing that’s going to win it is defense and they only scored 10 rest of the game,” Hoffman said. “We said to ourselves they don’t score another point and if they do, it’s nothing easy. That couldn’t have come at a better time. We came in the locker room and there was no panic. Everyone was locked in and ready to go.”
Warrior Run’s goal was to make it a 10-point game entering the fourth quarter. The Defenders did even better. Warrior Run extended its run to 17-0 to open the third quarter and quickly made it a 10-point game. Luke Ergott scored five straight for Hughesville and pushed the lead to 15, but the Spartans then scored just five points over the game’s last 16 minutes. The Defenders trailed 38-31 after three quarters and scored seven points in the fourth’s first two minutes, tying the game.
Taylor Mason (12 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks) hit a hook shot with 1:52 remaining, but Denver Beachel found Gage Anzulavich (14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) a possession later and the senior center tied the game. Anzulavich nearly hit a buzzer-beating basket, but the shot went just long and Keyes continued his assault once overtime started.
Keyes played maybe his best high school game and dominated the second half when he scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made three steals. Fast, strong and learning fast, the sophomore scored seven third-quarter points then opened the fourth by scoring two more and hitting a 3-pointer that made it a 2-point game. Keyes played super defense as well, drew two charges and fouled out the 6-foot-10 Mason late in overtime when he drew that second charge. Hoffman led the charge and then Keyes became the engine that powered a comeback that might make the New England Patriots envious.
“I was just feeling it. I came in there and tried to help out, that’s all I could do. I played my role as best as I could,” Keyes said. “I came into this game and I knew he was 6-10 and I’m only 6-1. He’s a great player and competitor and he played his heart out all game. I just tried to outmatch him. We all just kept fighting.”
Taylor Mason 6 0-1 12, Matt Myers 2 0-1 6, Devon Bushor 3 0-0 6, Luke Ergott 3 1-3 7, Patrick Rogers 0 0-0 0, Isaiah Savage 2 1-2 5, Devon Braden 0 0-0 0, Logan Woolcock 1 0-1 2, Clayton Poust 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 2-9 40.
WARRIOR RUN (44)
Gage Anzulavich 6 2-3 14, Ahmahd Keyes 6 2-4 15, Luke Burrows 1 0-0 3, Denver Beachel 0 0-0 0, Cassidy Hoffman 2 3-4 7, Kade Anzulavich 1 0-2 2, Austin Soltesz 1 0-0 2, Tyler Pick 0 0-0 0, Anthony Perrone 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 8-15 44.
Hughesville 18 12 8 2 0–40
Warrior Run 2 9 20 9 4–44
3-pointers: Hughesville 2 (Myers 2); Warrior Run 2 (Keyes, Burrows).
Records: Warrior Run 8-4, 2-2 HAC-III. Hughesville 3-6, 1-2.
JV Score: Hughesville 43-40.