BLOOMFIELD, NJ – In one of the closest games of the season, a foul in the last 26 seconds of overtime put Bloomfield’s Kyle Barrow at the free throw line, where he made both shots and led the Bengals to their NJSIAA Semifinal victory over the Randolph Rams.
The Bengals improved to (23-5, 9-3 SEC) with the 41-39 home court win on Friday night and will advance to the final round of the tournament. The visitors ended their season (20-7, 8-0 NWJAC).
With 1:47 left in what had been a very close first quarter, the Bengals achieved a game-high six-point lead after junior Mayowa Akindebe made a free throw. But the Rams quickly added two shots and prevented the Bengals from fitting another one in before the first buzzer. The Bengals took a 12-10 lead.
“I don’t think we played particularly well. We played very hard, but the ball didn’t go in a lot for us tonight,” Bengals Head Coach Patrick Brunner said in a post-game interview.
Barrow achieved another six-point lead with a three-pointer in the last three minutes of the half. In those three minutes, the Rams were able to put forth quick scoring and brought the game to a 23-23 tie.
After the Bengals got up to a 29-28 lead in the third quarter, the Rams came back again and held a 36-32 advantage to close out the third quarter.
“It got to us, but we just kept fighting and never gave up,” Bengals sophomore Mike Ramos told TAPinto Bloomfield.
Senior Myles Toppin raced to the basket to start the final quarter, making one shot but missing the next. Akindebe was quick to rebound Toppin’s attempt and throw it into the bucket to bring the game to a 36-36 tie.
As time was running out and his team was down by two points, Ramos tied the game once again in the fourth quarter’s final three seconds.
“I didn’t even think about it,” Ramos said. “I just did what I had to do.”
After dribbling and passing the ball back and forth until there was about 30 seconds left in overtime, Bloomfield’s plan to score did not go as planned, but a foul called on the Rams gave Barrow the opportunity to fit in his two game-winning free throws.
“The team knew I was going to make them, so I wasn’t nervous,” Barrow told TAPinto Bloomfield.
The Bengals will host the (19-10, 7-3 BNC) Ridgewood Maroons in the NJSIAA Final on Tuesday.
“We know what this team’s about, we don’t think anyone’s going to stop us,” Barrow said. “We’re just going to keep pushing.”
The two teams will tip off at Bloomfield High School at 7 pm.
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