All season long, District 5 in Class 7A has housed three of the top four teams in the classification. On Wednesday night in the semi-finals, third seed in the district and state-ranked #4 Olympia got past second seed and state-ranked #3 Windermere in overtime. To win the school’s first district title in boys hoops, the Titans would have to face the top overall team in the FHSAA’s rankings, neighborhood rival Dr. Phillips, on the Panthers’ home floor.
There was a long line outside the gym and a packed house inside when we arrived a half-hour before tip-off. Both schools brought out the fans. Ernest Udeh, DP’s 6’10 center and Kansas signee did not dress for the game due to illness but was on the bench. He wasn’t missed in the early going as the Panthers got out to an 11-5 lead early on, with Jordan Tillery scoring seven of those eleven. This caused Olympia to call a time out. The Titans quickly ran off five straight points closing to within one. That would be the difference at the end of the first quarter with DP on top 13-12.
The Titans took the lead on their first possession of the second quarter and led 18-15 early in the period. DP answered with a 5-0 run to give them a 20-18 lead with 3:30 left. After Olympia’s Edgerrin James made one of two technical free throws, DP pushed their margin to five after a putback from Riley Kugle and a bucket inside from Tillery. Olympia tied the game at 24-24 a few moments later after James hit two more technical free throws and Sean Owens drained a three on the ensuing possession. Denzel Aberdeen gave DP the lead back with a three-point play and after one of two free throws by James Kamran of Olympia, Tillery scored inside before the horn to make the score at the half 29-25 in favor of Dr. Phillips.
The back-and-forth drama continued in the third quarter. At the five-minute mark, the score was tied at 31-31. A pair of buckets from Aberdeen gave DP a four-point lead at 35-31. After the team’s exchanged a pair of free throws, Olympia’s Josh Meo drained a three pointer to get the Titans to within one with less than a minute to play. After a DP miss, Meo connected again from three-point range to give Olympia a 39-37 lead going into the fourth period.
DP opened up the period with a dunk inside by Kugel then a steal and score by Aberdeen to give the Panthers back the lead. James responded with a three for Olympia and from there the teams took turns taking the lead with big shots. With under three minutes to play, James of Olympia hit a three to tie the game at 47-47. Kugel hit one of two free throws for DP but James scored on a drive to give Olympia a 51-50 lead with forty-eight seconds to play. Aberdeen came right back for DP and knocked down a three with thirty seconds left to put DP up 53-51. Back came Olympia, or more particularly James, as he scored from mid-range to tie the game at 53-53 with nine seconds left. It looked for certain that Olympia would take the game in the final seconds after James stole the inbounds pass with six seconds left. However, he was called for charging. DP had one last chance to win in regulation but that shot was short and the game headed into overtime tied at 53-53.
DP got the tap in the OT but missed on its first opportunity. James connected on a jumper to give Olympia the lead but Aberdeen of DP connected on a three-point play to make the score 56-55 in favor of DP. After a steal and slam by Kugel gave DP a three-point advantage, Olympia put back a missed shot to draw within one. James gave Olympia the lead after a steal and score with just over one minute to play. After a DP turnover, James was fouled. He made one of two free throws with thirty seconds left to make the score 60-58 in favor of Olympia. Aberdeen responded for DP with a drive to tie the game at 60-60 with ten seconds left. DP forced a five-second count on the ensuing out of bounds possession for Olympia and had a chance to finish off the game. The three-point attempt didn’t drop and we headed to a second overtime tied at 60-60.
DP started the second overtime with three turnovers on their first three possessions. Meanwhile, Olympia was converting on their end and led 66-60 with 1:45 left in the game. Aberdeen of DP was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three of his free throws to get to within 66-63. James answered with a drive for Olympia and Aberdeen countered with a floater in the lane to make the score 68-65 with thirty-nine seconds left. Olympia turned the ball over but DP missed a three to tie. DP was forced to foul but Olympia missed both free throws to give DP life. DP missed another three with just six seconds remaining and had to foul. James made one of two for the final points of the game as Olympia wins in double-overtime, 69-65.
James led all players with 31 points for Olympia. Meo added 15 points for the Titans.
Aberdeen led the Panthers with 22 points while Tillery finished with 20 points.