There was little area interest in the Riverdale Baptist-Arlington Baptist boys basketball game last week -- until it was over.

By that time, though exhausted by the effort, players and coaches from both teams knew they had participated in something special, a game that needed nine overtimes to decide a victor at Arlington's home court in Baltimore.

Just how significant, though, they didn't seem to realize.

"We had no idea how many overtimes there were," said Coach Bill Edwards of Riverdale Baptist, which lost, 46-43. "We just knew we were getting tired . . . and hungry."

Only two scholastic boys basketball games are believed to have gone further.

Both teams played conservatively on offense. Arlington had used the deliberate approach to lead, 18-16, at the half. Riverdale's turnovers and the shooting of Tim Bender (20 points) then allowed Arlington to build a five-point lead early in the second half.

But Riverdale Baptist did not quit under its first-year coach. "There is definitely a new commitment to athletics (here)," said Edwards, who took over a team that finished 1-18 last season. "And we're determined to be competitive."

New players have helped, including Mo Yoshimoto, a point guard who led Riverdale back into the contest. He finished with 22 points.

Yoshimoto, in fact, had an opportunity to win the game early, but his basket at the end of regulation came just after the buzzer sounded.

Tied at 35, the two teams began their odyssey through the two-minute overtime periods, six of which would be scoreless.

"Neither team wanted to take a bad shot or risk turning the ball over," Edwards said. Thus, whichever team controlled the jump-ball tap would hold the ball and try for the final shot.

Riverdale played throughout the overtime in a bonus situation. But Arlington, which won the Maryland Association of Christian Schools championship last year, never commited another foul.

Riverdale actually scored first in two of the overtime periods, including the last. With both teams taking gambles in the ninth overtime and Riverdale forced to foul, Arlington outscored the visitors, 7-4.

"If we hadn't committed the turnovers, we may have played a 10th overtime," Edwards said with a laugh.

And the memory of the overtimes hasn't faded. Last Friday, playing without Yoshimoto and trailing by 25 points, Edwards said he turned to an assistant and remarked, "One positive thing is that we're not going into overtime tonignt."