CUMBERLAND — Christian Thomas drove the length of the court for the go-ahead basket in the nerve-racking final seconds of yet another City League nailbiter Friday evening, lifting second-ranked Allegany to a 64-61 win over top-ranked Bishop Walsh at Campobello.
Thomas, who was 10-for-14 from the field, finished with 27 points and Bryce Nightengale had 14 for the Campers, 9-4 overall and in first place in the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference at 8-1. All three teams in the City League are 1-1.
“Christian was absolutely fabulous tonight,’’ said Allegany coach Tedd Eirich. “He’s a senior, and is capable of having this kind of game any night.
“Everybody played well. I could talk about something each one did well. And everybody contributed with a big play in final minutes.”
Liam Rhodes hit 10 of 11 free throws and had 18 points for Bishop Walsh (13-5, 7-1 AMAC). Chris Scarlett had 10 points and seven rebounds and Hunter Marrale 13 points, including a three-pointer that gave the Spartans a 61-60 lead with only 15 seconds left.
That’s when Allegany inbounded the ball to Thomas, who weaved his way through the BW defense and into the lane to make the go-ahead shot with 8.4 seconds left.
BW missed its next shot and Nightengale got the rebound and made two foul shots to make it 64-61 with 1.2 seconds left.
“I give Allegany credit. They came to play and played hard. We had opportunities to win the game but made some poor choices and played poor defense at the end,” BW coach Bob Boyle said.
The game was marked by several big runs by both teams, poor foul shooting by Allegany, and four technical fouls. Three were on the Spartans, and two led to the disqualification of 6-foot-6 forward Quincy Redmon late in the second quarter.
“I’m just really frustrated,’’ said Boyle, who disputed the technicals on Redmon which he said were for taunting. The other was a team technical for dunking during warmups. “I just wish the officials would let the kids play the game and determine the outcome.”
Allegany scored 18 of the final 22 points of the first quarter for a 22-13 lead and was on top 30-25 at halftime.
But Bishop Walsh roared back with a spirited third quarter, outscoring the Campers 13-0 in the first four minutes and hitting 8 of 11 shots in a 25-point period. Billy Conroy hit two three-pointers and Brandon Reed another during the spurt.
The BW lead reached 10, 50-40, after a three-point play by Marrale with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
But the Campers roared back, outscoring the Spartans 24-11 the rest of the way to pull out the win, with Calman McKenzie leading the charge with seven fourth-quarter points.
“At the start of the third quarter I think we were a little lackadaisical on defense,” Eirich explained. “Our shot selection went south on us a little and BW got hot and starting hitting their shots.”
The tide seemed to shift toward Allegany when Colton Sivic turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play to cut the BW lead to 56-52 with 4:01 to go. McKenzie also scored after getting an offensive rebound, then hit a jumper to tie it 56-56 with 3:05 left.
“We’ve outrebounded every team we’ve played this year. They hurt us at times on the offensive boards and I’m sure they outrebounded us,’’ Boyle said.
The Campers, who had 21 rebounds last week at Fort Hill, had 20 at halftime against BW. They held a slight 32-29 edge for the game.
A minute after McKenzie’s game-tying jumper, Nightengale hit a three-point shot to give Allegany its first lead, 59-56, since early in the third quarter. The Campers stayed on top until Marrale’s three-pointer from in front of the BW bench, which began a flurry of seven points scored in the final 15 seconds.
The Campers won the jayvee game 59-15. Dajaun Pendergast had 22 points and Darquel Jessie 12 for Allegany. Isaiah Frasor had seven for the Spartans.
Allegany plays at Keyser on Tuesday. BW’s next game is at Frankfort on Jan. 28.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org