HAGERSTOWN, Md. – The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers battled adversity and gutted out a victory in a 62-60 overtime thriller over Heritage Academy Tuesday evening in a Mason Dixon Christian Conference boys basketball game, thrusting the Blazers into first place in the MDCC.
Freshman point guard Nollin Egolf scored the last two of his career-high 35 points on a layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime for the winning basket. Ryan Winters made a steal at the opposite end of the floor and passed down-court to Egolf, who broke free at the foul line and scooped in the game-clincher.
The Blazers (16-2, 9-1 MDCC) were playing without leading scorer and rebounder Caleb Eckert, who was sidelined with the flu. Additionally, Egolf picked up two quick fouls and sat out a portion of the first half, and second-leading scorer and rebounder Blaine Minnier was assessed his fourth foul in the third period and spent a big chunk of the second half on the sidelines.
“I’m so proud of these guys because they didn’t make excuses when their captain and leader couldn’t play,” Blazers coach Austin Sanders said. “Instead they battled and fought hard for 36 minutes, and their hard work paid off.”
Egolf scored all eight Blazers points in the overtime. He added seven rebounds.
Minnier contributed another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. He also picked off four steals to share team-high honors with Isaac Kauffeldt and dished off a team-leading four assists.
“It was tough when Blaine got into foul trouble and we had to sit him in the third quarter,” Sanders said. “The goal was to adjust and keep it close for a final push in the fourth. Nollin had an incredible game, and Blaine did a great job of changing his role with Caleb out.”
The Blazers fell behind 14-9 at the end of the first quarter, and Heritage went up 28-13 in the second quarter. The Blazers, however, forced a flurry of turnovers and surged within five, 31-26, at halftime. They trailed by only two, 44-42, entering the last period.
Heritage led by five late, but Egolf scored to bring them within three, and then Minnier drilled a deep 3-pointer with 23 seconds left to tie the game at 54 and send it to the four-minute extra period.
Heritage’s Rae Bullock made a 3-pointer to send the Eagles up 59-56, but the Blazers outscored them 6-1 the rest of the way.
“This game was a battle throughout,” Sanders said. “We were down double digits early in the second quarter, and I was not pleased with our defense or decision making on offense. We made some adjustments during a timeout, and these guys turned it on defensively and swung momentum our way.”
Kauffeldt added eight points and six rebounds, Kenneth Hott contributed four points and seven rebounds, and Winters collected two points.
For Heritage, Bullock scored 16 points and Dylan Cline slashed his way for 15.
The Blazers control their own destiny for the top seed in the MDCC playoffs, but they have a key conference matchup at Shalom Thursday night. Heritage fell to 13-4, 9-2 in the league.