AURORA | RJ Perry made just one 3-pointer Friday night, but it might have been the dagger in the chase for the Centennial League boys basketball championship.
The Cherokee Trail senior drained four triples two nights earlier to help the Cougars rally past Cherry Creek, but only one of his four attempts fell in the showdown between league leaders at Eaglecrest. It was a huge shot, however, as his 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left in the second overtime gave Cherokee Trail the lead for good in a 65-62 double-overtime victory over the Raptors.
Senior Drick Bernstine had 29 points to lead the Cougars, who gained a split in the season series with Eaglecrest and took sole possession of the Centennial League as they stretched their winning streak to seven games. Evan White chipped in 11 points and Anthony Murray nine for Cherokee Trail (14-7, 10-2), which leads the Raptors and Grandview by a game with two to play.
“It felt good; I hadn’t come through all day, but I just needed to get my team a win,” Perry said of his only basketball of the game, which put the Cougars ahead after Eaglecrest (16-5, 9-3) took a two-point lead with 50 seconds remaining.
“It was a great team effort,” he added. “We had to play six quarters, but it was a good team win.”
Rayjon Craig had 17 points to pace Eaglecrest, which also got 10 points from TreShawn Wilford, Jaisean Jackson and Blend Avdili, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Coach John Olander’s Raptors — who beat Cherokee Trail by 13 points when the teams met Jan. 23 — got a buzzer-beating layup at the end of regulation from Wilford to send the game to overtime and led by as many as three points in the second extra 4-minute session, but couldn’t hold on.
A see-saw contest through the first three quarters-plus quarters got tight down the stretch, with the lead changing hands five times in the final 2:45 of regulation.
Bernstine hit a sweet fadeaway in traffic to put Cherokee Trail up 53-51 with 3.1 seconds remaining, but the Cougars blew a defensive assignment on the final sequence that allowed Eaglecrest to tie the score. Out of a time out, the Raptors inbounded the ball to Wilford, who raced up the floor and found no defenders in his way as he finished a left-handed layup to knot the score at 53-53.
Cherokee Trail was disheartened, but immediately went up three points in overtime, only to see Eaglecrest tie the game yet again on Jackson’s layup with 25 seconds left. Avdili got the Raptors the ball for the final possession after a big tie-up with Bernstine, but Craig’s shot was off the mark to send the game to a second overtime.
It was Eaglecrest’s turn to get out to a lead as a Jackson free throw and Craig layup made it 60-57 in the Raptors’ favor after a minute. Bernstine and Murray tied the game with three free throws for the Cougars, but Craig again put his team ahead with an inside basket with 50 seconds left.
Cherokee Trail worked the ball around for several seconds before Bernstine threw a cross-court pass to Perry, who curled off a screen and knocked down his go-ahead 3-pointer.
Wilford drove a congest lane and missed a layup with Bernstine getting the rebounding and converting two free throws to ice the game for the Cougars.
Cherokee Trail plays host to cellar dweller Mullen on Feb. 20 and close with a tough road contest at Arapahoe on Feb. 22, while Eaglecrest is home to Smoky Hill on Feb. 20 and at Overland on Feb. 22.
At 9-3 in league play, Grandview — which split with both Cherokee Trail and Eaglecrest — remains in contention for at least a share of first place, but faces tough road games at Arapahoe Feb. 20 and Cherry Creek on Feb. 22.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
CHEROKEE TRAIL 65, EAGLECREST 62 (2OT)
Score by quarters:
Cherokee Trail 12 11 14 16 4 8 — 65
Eaglecrest 8 13 15 17 4 5 — 62
CHEROKEE TRAIL (65)
RJ Perry 1 2-2 5, Solomon Yon 2 1-1 5, Evan White 3 4-5 11, Anthony Murray 3 1-4 9, Drick Bernstine 8 9-9 29, Tyler Larkin 1 0-0 2, Izaiah Lottie 1 2-2 4, Kennedy Littleton 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 19-23 65.
Rayjon Craig 7 2-2 17, TreShawn Wilford 4 2-6 10, Sean Watkins 2 3-4 7, Jaisean Jackson 2 5-8 10, Blend Avdili 4 2-2 10, LaDerian King 3 0-0 6, Elijah Ross 0 0-0 0, Maurice Perez 0 2-2 2. Totals 22 16-24 62.
3-point field goals — Cherokee Trail (8): Drick Bernstine 4, Anthony Murray 2, RJ Perry, Evan White; Eaglecrest (2): Rayjon Craig, Jaisean Jackson. Total fouls — Cherokee Trail 19, Eaglecrest 19. Fouled out — Cherokee Trail: Tyler Larkin; Eaglecrest: Elijah Ross, Sean Watkins. Technical fouls — None.