Annville-Cleona s Paxson Hayes fires away as Brandywine Heights Michael Hunter defends during Wednesday s District Three Class AA first-round contest in Annville. The Dutchmen lost 48-38 in overtime after Hayes hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS GLEN GRAY)
ANNVILLE - After a sub-par regular season, the Annville-Cleona boys' basketball team could have easily called it quits.
Instead, the Dutchmen RSVP'd to the District Three Class AA tournament. Then, they refused to go quietly or leave on time.
Brandywine Heights ended Annville-Cleona's second season with a 48-38 overtime victory Wednesday night in a District Three Class AA first-round matchup in Annville.
The Bullets outgunned the Dutchmen 12-2 in the extra session, spoiling Paxson Hayes's end-of-regulation heroics. Hayes forced OT by sinking a 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the contest at 36.
"The nice thing about a buzzer-beater is it gives you a lot of excitement. The bad thing about a buzzer-beater is that it ends something," A-C head coach Justin Edwards said. "If you get to keep playing right away, you get that momentum. But everybody got to sit down and reset, and that sort of took the winds out of our sails a little bit."
The Dutchmen turned ice cold in OT, shooting 0-for-7 from the field. Senior Zach Weaber sank a pair of free throws early in the four-minute frame to put A-C up 38-37. Brandywine Heights answered with an 11-0 run to close out the game.
"We were worried that their momentum might carry over into overtime," said Bullets head coach Ben Tannous. "But we thought we played a really good second half, and we wanted that to carry over.
We just kept attacking the basket because that's where we were getting most of our points even if we weren't shooting well from the free-throw line."
Berks County's Brandywine Heights ended 17-for-35 (49 percent) from the charity stripe, including 7-of-12 in the fifth quarter. Bullet guard Matt Boyer scored a team-high 11 points, while Michael Hunter (10), Alec Hess (nine) and Sean Ziegler (eight) added support.
"(Annville-Cleona) played extremely hard. In the first half, we were scared," added Tannous. "They played really good man-to-man pressure defense, and we turned the ball over way too often. We just didn't look comfortable at all."
The visitors never trailed in the first quarter, taking a 10-8 lead after eight minutes. Hayes gave the Dutchmen their first advantage with a 3-pointer to start the second. From there, Edwards dialed up the defensive pressure, implementing a full-court press.
"We've been working on that during our long break," said Edwards, referring to a two-week break between the regular season and districts. "We put in a couple new things and one of them was that pressure scheme; something to keep teams on their toes and knock them off balance a little bit. That got some easy ones for us."
A-C's Trenton Wizar and Hayes closed the first half with back-to-back buckets to put the red and blue up 19-14. The Dutchmen took its largest lead at 24-14 on a Matt Light jumper at 5:30 of the third. Wizar then converted a free throw following a technical on Tannous to make it 27-20 after three quarters.
Much like OT, the Dutchmen (4-19) missed seven straight shots to start the fourth quarter. An interior bucket by Light at 5:00 made it 29-28 and marked the final lead of the game for A-C. Still, woeful free-throw shooting left the door open for A-C in the final seconds.
Trailing 36-33, Weaber found Hayes coming around a double screen, freeing the junior sniper for a hand-in-your-face "3." Hayes hit the shot to extend the Dutchmen's season - albeit for four minutes.
"We just said, 'Stick with the gameplan, stay confident,'" added Tannous, who attended Elizabethtown College with Edwards. "They're going to ride this high for a little bit, but it won't be long."
Brandywine Heights (8-14) advances to play top-seeded Trinity (16-6) on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Dutchmen finish at 4-19.
"Regardless of tonight's outcome, it bought us two more weeks with the (younger guys)," explained Edwards. "Keeping them in the gym - competing for two more weeks - is something we don't normally have. They usually start spring sports and go there own way. It was really beneficial for us to work on some little things, get a lot of shots up and build toward next year while maintaining focus on the end of this year."