For The Dialog
MILLTOWN – St. Mark’s hosted A.I. DuPont Jan. 9 in a double-overtime thriller that ultimately was decided at the free throw line.
It was tied at 56 in the second OT, with the Spartans playing for the final shot, when A.I. fouled Zach Palmer near halfcourt with 21 seconds to go. Palmer calmly sank the first shot, and Chris Ludman grabbed the rebound when he missed the second. Ludman dribbled the ball out of the key and was fouled with 11 seconds left. He hit both free throws, and after a turnover Palmer made one more for the 60-56 final score.
A.I. took control of the game early; Julius Inge and Luis Ortega shot back-to-back three-pointers to give the Tigers an 8-1 lead. St. Mark’s went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter, with Ludman and Jamai Rice each scoring four points.
The second quarter was all about runs, as the Tigers went on a 9-0 streak to grab a 19-12 lead. Kevin Dent had seven of those points. But the half ended with St. Mark’s scoring eight straight, including a huge three-pointer from Palmer, and had a 20-19 advantage at the half.
It was back-and-forth in the third, but a triple by Inge before the buzzer gave the Tigers a 35-32 lead. Sean Gilardi of St. Mark’s hit a three to tie it early in the fourth, and the teams traded points most of the quarter. The Spartans had a 47-45 lead after a Ludman free throw, and they had possession with 28 seconds to go, but A.I. got it back.
Inge scored on a driving layup with 15 seconds left, and the Tigers forced another turnover. Inge tried a three-pointer at the buzzer, but it fell off the rim.
Gilardi opened overtime with another triple, and St. Mark’s controlled the clock. Ludman gave his team a 52-50 lead with a free throw, but once again Inge tied the game. This time, St. Mark’s missed the final shot at the end of the first extra session, and Ludman’s putback came just after the buzzer.
Ludman led the Spartans with 27 points, including nine of 13 from the foul line. Rice added 15 and was seven of nine from the charity stripe. The Spartans improved to 7-1, including a perfect 5-0 at home. They travel to Sussex Central on Friday night for a 6:15 p.m. start.
Inge had 15 to lead the Tigers, who fell to 5-5. They play at Hodgson at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.