In what will certainly go down as one of the game's of the year O'Connell won the ultimate battle of attrition.
A good game became a classic when PVI sophomore Marcus Derrickson stepped up to the foul line with no time on the clock and the backboard illuminated in red from the clock expiring. Paul VI had clawed there way back into a game that appeared over. As the entire Paul VI side went dead quiet and the entire O'Connell side went bonkers at Bender Arena and no players stood around the key Derrickson sank the first. Some PVI fans started celebrating; most stayed quiet knowing that the next free throw was infinitely more important than the first. Derrickson calmly netted the second one and a mini celebration erupted near mid court. PVI was back, this game was starting over -- four minutes-- tie game.
PVI dominated most of the first over-time. They never trailed. But O'Connell junior Melo Trimble sank a pair of free-throws to tie it with 27.7 seconds left and PVI was to hold for one shot, double OT or victory, O'Connell would have no chance to win this one in OT. O'Connell locked it up defensively and PVI called a timeout with 1.5 second left 30 feet away from the basket. Franklin Howard would miss a deep desperation shot and the game would head into it's second extra session.
In the second over-time the teams would exchange free-throws and buckets. The stage was set. PVI trailed by one when Franklin Howard would drive to the lane, initiate a lot of contact, put up a lay-up, and it fell. The whistle didn't blow from the contact but O'Connell would call an immediate time-out leaving 4.4 seconds on the clock. PVI teammates would embrace Howard as it appeared his shot had a great chance of giving them the win and a birth to their second consecutive WCAC championship.
After the O'Connell time-out Jamall Gregory had trouble finding an open teammate while inbounding the ball. After about four seconds he fired a two handed chest pass just over mid court to Junior Etou. Etou had missed the front end of a one and one near the end of regulation, and then missed a pair of free throws with around 30 seconds left in the second over-time. But Etou had grabbed an offensive board after his second miss and gotten fouled again. He made those two free throws and given O'Connell a one point lead .... Until Franklin Howard's shot had given the lead back to PVI. So Etou receives the inbound pass and starts dribbling towards the basket. With 1.4 seconds left it appeared that he felt contact and went to hoist up a three pointer. The referees agreed, contact warranted a foul and Etou would go back to the line. Which Junior Etou would show up on this free throw appearance?
Junior would hit all three free throws and with no time-outs remaining PVI would get a last second heave from mid court but Franklin Howard's shot would go wide right and hit off the backboard and the celebration began for Bishop O'Connell.
University of Maryland commit Romelo Trimble was the game's high scorer. He finished with 21. Etou finished with 11, including 5 of 8 from the line. Leroy Butts and Jamaal King scored 12 and 11 respectively.
Marcus Derrickson led PVI with 16. Quadree Smith and Frank Howard added 14 and 13.
As if the plot couldn't thicken any more there is a very good chance that these two teams will see each other again. The Virginia state private school playoffs saw these same schools play in its championship last year. Paul VI won. They are the heavy favorites to get back to that championship this year.
With Sunday's win O'Connell advances to play St. John's in the 2013 WCAC championship. The teams have already met twice this year with O'Connell winning both. On December 18th O'Connell won 83-75 at St. John's. On February 10th O'Connell won 79-77 in Arlington. St. John's led at the half in one game and it was tied at the half in the other. Tuesday night has the potential for another classic.