Raiders win 2-OT thriller
Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
February 3, 2014

JACKSON TWP — Thirty six minutes of basketball failed to decide matters in Seneca Valley's Section 3-AAAA meeting with Pine-Richland Friday night.

Then came double overtime.

That's where the Raiders' boys grabbed a WPIAL playoff spot by outscoring the visiting Rams 12-2, leading to a 72-62 victory on Senior Recognition Night at SV's William Paul Gymnasium.

A Seneca loss would not have eliminated the Raiders (11-8, 6-6) from playoff contention, but it would have set them up to potentially be ousted via a tiebreaker with Pine-Richland, who won the first meeting between the teams, 69-56 on Jan. 9.

“We were talking about it in the locker room before the game,” said SV junior guard Chad Izenas, who scored seven of his 11 points in double overtime. “If we couldn't beat Pine on our own floor, we didn't want to go to the playoffs. That's how much this game meant to us.”

Izenas opened the scoring in the second extra period, draining a 3-pointer for a 63-60 lead with 3:34 left. After the Raiders rebounded a missed 3-pointer by the Rams, T.J. Holl pushed SV's lead to five points with a basket in the paint.

Moments later, Izenas drained a pair of free throws for a 67-60 cushion with just over two minutes left. The Rams (6-12, 3-9) did not score until Paul Nussbaum's layup just before the final buzzer.

“Chad's 3-pointer at the start of the second overtime was so big for us,” said Raiders' coach Victor Giannotta. “We played with energy and enthusiasm tonight and that didn't happen the first time we played them.”

“Our intensity rose in double overtime,” said Izenas. “We made a couple of shots, played well on defense and then hit our free throws. That was the key.”

The Rams held a 58-56 lead late in regulation before Matt Darby sank a bucket that tied the score with under a minute remaining. Both teams managed just two points in the first overtime — Zach Snyder's two-point basket for the Raiders preceded Nussbaum's two free throws with 2:48 left. The Raiders then stalled, with Darby holding onto the ball near midcourt for over two minutes. With just two seconds left, Holl's 3-point attempt was no good, forcing the second overtime.

Senior center Josh Bauer was the star of the first half for the Raiders, scoring 16 of his career-high 20 points. The effort helped the Raiders lead 32-24 at halftime.

Bauer is in his first season on the varsity team.

“We would not be in the playoffs without Josh,” said Giannotta. “He has done everything we have asked of him and it's been a pleasure having him in the program.”

Also honored before the game were seniors Mike Smith, Bryce Schnatterly and Darby.