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BOYS BASKETBALL: Girdler's 3-pointer at the buzzer lifts Adams past Bloomfield Hills in OT WITH TOUT VIDEOS

BLOOMFIELD HILLS -- It could not have been scripted any better.

Friday night’s heavyweight rumble between Bloomfield Hills and Rochester Adams had it all – overtime, 172 combined points, and a game-winning shot on the final possession.

Down one, with just seconds on the clock, Adams’ Akhemji Williams took the inbound pass near midcourt, turned, dribbled once, found teammate Thomas Girdler wide open in the corner, and the 6-foot-2 wingman delivered in the biggest way possible.

With a hand in his face, Girdler’s 3-point shot dropped as the final buzzer went off, silencing the rowdy home crowd and lifting the Highlanders past Bloomfield Hills, 87-85.

“That was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” said Girdler after the win. “Coach drew it up in the huddle. He said I was going to take it, and we ran the play just how we planned… We knew that we needed this game. If you want to be league champs, you have to take some on the road.”

[Editor's note: To see video of Girdler's game-winning shot, check out the first Tout video below this article]

It appeared that the Black Hawks were going escape as one-point winners after Khalil Gracey drilled a deep two with about six seconds left in the overtime period, giving Bloomfield Hills an 85-84 lead.

But Adams coach John Hall’s final play to Girdler was drawn up and executed perfectly.

“We wanted to give them a different look on that last play,” he said. “I told them that if they run two guys at Akhemji, he had to get rid of the ball. And to his credit, he’s not bigger than the team. He’s willing to give up the ball in the game’s biggest moment to defer to a wide-open teammate. That says a lot about him as a player.”

Williams, who was playing in his first game back from suspension, knew he was going to attract a lot of attention for the last-second attempt, leaving Girdler open. And although Williams led all scorers with 31 points, he was more than happy dishing it off on the game’s final play.

“I knew that (Girdler) was getting the ball,” Williams said of the last play. “I saw their big man waiting for me to take it to the paint, and (Girdler) was wide open in the corner, and he got the best shot off we could’ve asked for. He made it, and that was the game.”

With the win, Adams stays alive in the OAA Red race, improving to 5-2 in the conference and 8-3 overall.

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better high school basketball game than what we all just saw,” Hall said. “I thought both sides had the game won on multiple occasions. Both sides were just relentless. It was an unbelievable game.”

Bloomfield Hills took control early in the overtime session, leading by four at the midway point. But then Williams took over for the Highlanders, scoring eight points in the final two minutes, including a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to give Adams an 84-83 lead. The 5-foot-9 floor general scored 10 of his 31 points in overtime.

“This is definitely the best game we’ve had this year,” Williams said. “It was against a great team on the road. I’m just glad to be back. This is how games are going to be now.”

Though it’s not surprising that a game that went back and forth so many times ended up in overtime, Adams held a four-point lead late in regulation and couldn’t close it out.

Bloomfield Hills trailed 71-67 with less than 30 seconds to play in regulation, but using his size and athleticism, Black Hawks big man Yante Maten scored back-to-back baskets in the final 15 seconds to force overtime. Maten finished the night with a team-high 28 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Along with Maten, Bloomfield Hills (10-2, 5-2 OAA Red) was led by Gracey, who poured in 27 points, and Armand Cartwright, who posted 15 points in the loss.

“Rochester Adams is a great team, and you have to play a full four quarters to beat them,” Bloomfield Hills coach Duane Graves said. “We beat ourselves a little tonight, and now, we have to learn from this and get better.”

Adams had six players finish in double figures on Friday night and now look ahead to the second half of the OAA Red schedule.

“If we lost tonight, we realistically had no shot at the league title,” Hall said. “But now, this puts us right back in it. If we can stay healthy, I think we can compete with anyone in the league. You have to bring it every night. A win like this justifies everything that the coaches have been telling these guys.”



ROCHESTER ADAMS 87, BLOOMFIELD HILLS 85 (F/OT)

ADAMS -- Akhemji Williams 10 (2) 5-6 31; Michael Girdler (1) 3; Thomas Girdler 2 (2) 2-2 12; Cole Davis 3 (1) 1-2 10; Joey Ziniti 5 10; Brandon Barrows 1 (2) 2-2 10; Spencer Littleson (3) 2-3 11; Totals: 20 (11) 12-15

BLOOMFIELD HILLS -- Yante Maten 12 4-8 28; Khalil Gracey 11 (1) 2-2 27; Armand Cartwright 6 (1) 15; Totals: 32 (3) 8-12

SCORE BY QUARTER

RA 14 18 15 24 16 -- 87

BH 15 14 17 25 14 -- 85

RECORDS -- Adams 8-3, 5-2 OAA Red; Bloomfield Hills 10-2, 5-2

Last Updated: 2/1/2014 4:21:47 PM EST

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