AURORA | Eric Garcia got posterized by good friend Drick Bernstine Wednesday night, but the Grandview senior won the bigger battle in the end.
Garcia was in the way of a massive one-handed dunk by Cherokee Trail’s Bernstine in the second half of an electric neighborhood battle between the Wolves and Cougars, but he recovered to hit a pull-up 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
It went to a second overtime and Garcia added three more points and a few assists, helping spark Grandview to an 84-77 victory.
“Drick’s my summer teammate and he’s like a brother to me; he dunked on me and I’m probably going to hear about it later, but I got the win,” said Garcia, a Wofford University recruit who had a team-high 27 points for the Wolves, who won their third straight game against their rivals.
“This is my favorite game of the year,” he added. “We know everybody on that team, we’re all friends. It’s a fun rivalry, so it’s always good to get this one.”
Akram Imam added 20 points and 12 rebounds, Tanner Gentry chipped in 17 points and 9 rebounds and Branden Cosby-Lee scored 10 points for Grandview, which won its second straight overtime game and improved to 8-4 overall and 2-1 in the Centennial League.
Bernstine — who is headed to the University of Denver — rang up a game-high 31 points with an assortment of dunks, layups, 3-pointers and free throws (15 in all), but it wasn’t enough as coach Morgan Gregory’s Cougars lost for the first time in three league games.
RJ Perry scored 11 points, Jay Nelson 10 and Kennedy Littleton nine for Cherokee Trail, which fell to 6-6 overall. The Cougars will try to avoid a sweep when Grandview pays a Feb. 8 visit.
“This was a tough loss; we played hard, but we made some mistakes in the end that hurt us,” Bernstine said. “We didn’t play very well in the second overtime, but hopefully the next time we play, we’ll get them.”
Cherokee Trail — which a few days earlier knocked off Overland on Solomon Yon’s last-second putback — had the last shot with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and at the end of the first overtime.
After Garcia’s tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Cherokee Trail raced the ball up the floor and got it to Perry, who was short with his jump shot from the wing before the buzzer.
Perry got the Cougars another chance at the end of the overtime when he blocked Gentry’s shot and got his team possession. Coming out of a time out with 7.5 seconds remaining, Bernstine came up short with his shot.
Each team scored just four points in the first overtime, but the floodgates opened in the second extra 4-minute session as they combined for 27 points.
Imam’s layup opened the scoring and the Wolves never trailed. A five-point burst by Gentry — including a 3-point play and a layup sparked by Imam’s block of Bernstine — gave Grandview a four-point edge and the Wolves finished it off at the free throw line.
“That was one of the most exciting games I can remember being involved in,” Grandview coach Gary Childress said. “Cherokee Trail is very hard to guard, so you feel fortunate any time you can come out on top. …Drick came to play, he was spectacular.”
The most exciting moment of the game for the whole gym came midway through the fourth quarter with Grandview leading by six points and threatening to pull away from Cherokee Trail.
The 6-foot-6 Bernstine came up with a steal, dribbled the length of the floor and threw down a vicious dunk with his right hand.
Garcia half-heartedly tried to take a charge on the play and was knocked to the floor with the contact as the crowd on both sides jumped out of their seats. Bernstine was whistled for a technical foul after his emotional celebration and Garcia made both free throws.
Bernstine was in the zone, however, as he made two free throws, then a 3-point play and two more free throws as he scored 11 straight for his team, rallying them from a six-point deficit to a 3-point lead with just under two minutes remaining.
A pair of Anthony Murray free throws gave Cherokee Trail a 63-60 lead with just 23.5 seconds left, but Garcia erased it with his fourth 3-pointer of the night.
“It felt really good, I practice that shot all the time,” Garcia said. “Ant’s (Murray) a good defender, but I had a little space and just pulled up.”
The Wolves played well in the second overtime on their way to their second straight win in extra time after they defeated Mullen on the road in one overtime in the previous game.
Just three games into league play, Bernstine is already feeling all the extra basketball taking it’s toll, especially since he rarely gets a breather.
“We’re letting these games draw out,” he said. “Two overtimes without coming out is a lot. I’m getting tired really fast.”
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
GRANDVIEW 84, CHEROKEE TRAIL 77 (20T)
Score by quarters:
Cherokee Trail 12 14 15 22 4 10 — 77
Grandview 13 15 22 13 4 17 — 84
CHEROKEE TRAIL (77)
RJ Perry 4 0-0 11, Solomon Yon 0 1-2 1, Kennedy Littleton 3 2-2 9, Anthony Murray 2 2-4 7, Drick Bernstine 7 15-17 31, Jay Nelson 3 3-6 10, David Thornton 1 0-0 2, Izaiah Lottie 0 0-0 0, Tyler Larkin 1 2-2 4, Evan White 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 25-33 77.
Eric Garcia 7 9-10 27, Tanner Gentry 5 6-8 17, Devon Brown 0 5-6 5, Branden Cosby-Lee 5 0-0 10, Akram Imam 9 2-2 20, Jarred Burr 0 0-0 0, JR Smith 1 0-0 3, Blake Weeks 1 0-0 2, Jameson Cusworth 0 0-0 0, Aaron Montgomery 0 0-0 0, Keanu Flores 0 0-1 0. Totals 28 22-27 84.
3-point field goals — Cherokee Trail (8): RJ Perry 3, Drick Bernstine 2, Kennedy Littleton, Anthony Murray, Jay Nelson; Grandview (6): Eric Garcia 4, Tanner Gentry, JR Smith. Total fouls — Cherokee Trail 20, Grandview 18. Fouled out — Grandview: Branden Cosby-Lee. Technical fouls — Cherokee Trail: Bernstine.