* Osbourn Park boys 44, Gar-Field 42
The Osbourn Park boys' basketball team knocked off Gar-Field on Friday night, 44-42, for what is believed to be the first time since 1988. But it was how the Yellow Jackets did it -- on a lean-in, buzzer-beating jumper by senior Adam Hinton-Moore to end a pressure-packed final few minutes -- that might be the most encouraging aspect of the victory, a milestone for a program pining for its first winning season since the 1980s.
"They have the most speed, and they're bigger in big games," Hinton-Moore said of the Indians after dragging himself away from a small, but spirited, group of students who rushed their home court when time expired. "They have more experience. But it's a new team at OP. It tells us we're able to compete with everybody else now."
"Games like this last year we would have folded," said Yellow Jackets Coach Dan Lawray, whose team had endured a "demoralizing" loss just three nights before by squandering an 18-point lead against Stafford.
With that game fresh on their minds, being able to close the deal in a far closer game against a longtime bully is what made the win Friday so satisfying.
Gar-Field (1-2) fell behind by nine early and never was able to take a lead, though it did finally tie the game midway through the fourth quarter when junior Chris Vann drained a three-pointer from the top of the key. But 13 seconds later, Osbourn Park junior Jon Pierce answered to put his team back on top.
The Indians again tied the score, this time on two free throws by senior Chris Doss. But there was Pierce again, this time hitting a 15-footer to give Osbourn Park another two-point cushion. After Indians senior Demetrius Howard (15 points) sank a jumper on the left baseline to yet again tie the score, Gar-Field rebounded a missed free throw 10 seconds later, with 1 minute 25 seconds left, and decided to milk the rest of the clock to take a final shot.
But after an Osbourn Park foul with 11 ticks left, the Indians failed to inbound the ball within the five-second count, turning possession over to the Yellow Jackets (2-1). With four seconds left, standing near midcourt, senior Jabari Hinton-Lee inbounded to Hinton-Moore -- the second option on the play with junior sharpshooter James Broderick covered.
Hinton-Moore dribbled down the left side and pump-faked his man, creating an open look at the basket, of which he took full advantage.
Just as he got a clear look at the hoop, he also got a clear look at the future. He hopes.
"Definitely, this is going to be the start of something big," said Hinton-Moore, who had 14 points and seven rebounds and is one of seven players on his squad 6 feet 4 or taller. "Coach told us he has a good feeling about this team, and the more he tells us he has a good feeling, the more we want to come out and compete every night."
"It's been a long time coming for these boys. A long time coming," said Lawray, a 1986 Gar-Field graduate who was an assistant at his alma mater in 1988, the last season he recalls Osbourn Park beating the Indians.
"We knew this was a big year for OP," Pierce said. "We said it before, but we're really serious this time.
"We're on a level up here," he added, motioning with his hand near his head, "and we're not coming down."