by BRYAN EVERSON
Rochester came up just short in a frantic final 30 seconds of Tuesday night’s OAA Blue battle.
The Falcons held Oxford’s weapons mostly silent in the early going, but were outscored in the final quarter and fell 50-47 at home.
Following a trip to the line for the Wildcats, junior forward Lamarkco Gulledge flushed down a two-handed slam for Rochester that severed the deficit from five points to three with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they were unable to get a potential game-tying 3-pointer to fall from the right wing seconds later, but the visitors would supply one final chance to them.
The Falcons fouled with 1.2 seconds left, and Oxford left the door open by missing the front end of a 1- and-1 foul situation, allowing Rochester coach John Pleasant to call a timeout and set up plans for the final sequence still down just three.
“Hunter [Schattler] was in the corner, and we’re trying to basically do a decoy, because I think when we’re down 3, [they think] he’s probably going to get the ball,” Pleasant said. “So he was coming out hard, but we’re flaring Ivan [Barraza] out in the corner to get him a catch-and-shoot.”
Rochester was able to get a long heave off, but Pleasant indicated to the official his player couldn’t secure the ball just in front of the Falcons’ bench due to a shove in the back, putting an end to any potential hopes of overtime.
“Obviously I thought it was a foul, but there’s lots of possessions in a game…the last thing I’ll ever do is blame an official,” Pleasant said. “There might be untimely calls, but we made a lot more mistakes than they did [overall].”
Tuesday’s ending wasn’t an exact replica of anything Rochester’s faced this season, but the result bared similarities.
“I thought the kids competed and battled, but that’s our fourth one-possession game we’ve lost now,” Pleasant said. “We haven’t had to go full-court in two seconds [this season], [but] we run through those last-second scenarios in practice on a weekly basis. It was a 65-foot pass that was on the money, and he was supposed to catch it on the right wing and he didn’t catch it for whatever reason.”
“We’ve got to figure out a way to win those, on the offensive or defensive end.”
Despite scoring just four points in the opening quarter, Rochester came alive after the slow start, hitting a trio of 3’s in the second to help command a 22-19 lead heading into the break.
“I thought we had great shots [in the first quarter], I think we had three of them that just went in-and-out, and that happens,” Pleasant said. “I don’t get worried about missed shots, I worry about what kind of shots we take.”
Oxford (13-2) standout Jordan Jadan was able to finally make some noise in the second half, when he scored 13 of his team-high 15 points, and Michael Raisch also scored all 10 of his points for the Wildcats after the half.
Most of Barazza’s damage came in the middle quarters for Rochester. He tied for a game-high 16 points with Gulledge, who poured in nine of his in the fourth.
Schattler chipped in seven points for the Falcons, who now sit at 8-8 overall and will travel to take on Groves Friday night.
In other boys’ action Tuesday night, Stoney Creek improved to 13-3 thanks to a 60-55 overtime win against Lake Orion behind 16 points from Evan Becker. On the other side of town, Adams remained winless following a 72-63 loss to Southfield A&T despite 21 points from Antonio Rosado.