The Panthers shocked Saint Andrew's in overtime on Friday Night. Great defense was a massive part of their victory. (Via Jesse Nadelman, RMF Magazine)
On Friday, January 27th, the boys basketball team shocked everyone in an epic upset over Saint Andrew's, whose record is 21-1. The Stacy Gym was rocking all night long and when the Panthers finally ended the game, madness ensued with a court storm.
Pine Crest jumped out to an early 19-7 lead in the first quarter. The team's stifling defense held four-star Florida State commit Anthony Polite scoreless, and the student section was quick to serenade him with "overrated" chants. Saint Andrew's battled back in the second, and at halftime the score was 30-25. Polite was finally on the board with a thunderous alley-oop, but the Panther defense stayed strong.
Early in the fourth, the Panthers fell down 9 to the Scots, and chances of a comeback were looking bleak. Down 7 with 2:45 left in the fourth, the team put on a show with a 7-0 run led by sophomore guard Scotty Pippen. Pippen, with his father in the house, had a tremendous block on Polite and capitalized on the steal by getting to the free throw line. He took over the game both defensively and offensively.
When asked about his game-changing fourth quarter performance, Scotty stated, "The crowd helped the team with their energy and just helped me get more aggressive and take over." Pippen had seven of his twelve points in the fourth.
With just under one minute left in the game, sophomore Brian Anderson knocked down a huge shot to tie it at 54. Miles Polley then took a courageous charge on defense on what would have been the game-winning basket for Saint Andrew's had the play stood. Polley played a tremendous game on defense, largely responsible for holding Polite to just 12 points. He spoke about his performance, "Playing against Polite was the most fun I've ever had. Every game he is the focus and the star of the game, so I used that to energize myself. The key was my mindset. I looked at him as any other player on the court, not a Division I commit." The charge ignited the crowd and gave the Panthers the ball back.
Polley said of the play, "I was hyped. In a situation like that I gave my team another chance to win the game, which was all we needed. That moment is when our team found a second burst of energy we needed." The junior forward was certainly a major key to the Panthers victory and defensive performance Friday night.
In overtime, the team came together and ended the game as a unit. Senior captain Chris Marzouca made the clinching free throws to put the nail in the coffin, 61-59. Marzouca was clearly the Panthers' leader on the court, keeping everyone composed in front of a raucous crowd.
However, for the Haeffner twins, it was hard to stay composed. Brett and A.J played last season for coach John O'Connell at Saint Andrew's, and they knew that this game against their former team would be emotional. When Brett made the game-winning shot late in overtime, both brothers were filled with emotion. This win meant a little more to them.
For more on the twins' reaction to the game, check out their letter to the editor found here
It was an amazing win for the 14-7 Panthers over Saint Andrew's on Friday night.