MANLIUS — Both the Hall and Princeton boys basketball teams lived to fight another day Monday at the Class 2A Bureau Valley Regional — just not the way they had hoped.
After multiple stoppages due to a brown-out and flickering gymnasium lights caused by blizzard conditions outside, play between the Red Devils and Tigers was finally halted with Hall up 46-41 at 1:05 left in the contest and Hall’s Danny Nolasco at the foul stripe for the second of two free throws.
The two squads will return to Manlius at 6 tonight to finish the final 65 seconds of the postseason play-in contest and see who will earn the right to face top-seeded Seneca on Wednesday.
Play was initially interrupted at the 2:39 mark of the fourth quarter with Princeton’s Cole Evenson at the foul line as the BV gym’s lighting system resembled a discotheque with cycling lights creating a strobe effect.
Action resumed 11 minutes later before another quick stoppage with 2:32 left.
Multiple restarts and delays followed before referees elected to bring a stop to the contest over concerns of players’ safety.
The last 1:34 of game time before the stoppage took roughly an hour, and the scene courtside carried a strong similarity to the recent Super Bowl delay with players milling about waiting for play to be resumed.
“I told (Hall assistant) Cody (Burroughs) that we’ve gone through pretty much everything this year with different kids quitting and weird scenarios, and this pretty much tops it off,” said Hall coach Mike Filippini, who said he had not seen a similar situation play out in his 16 years with the Hall girls and boys hoops programs.
Filippini said delaying the game may have a negative affect for the winner.
“It’s a five-point game and we’re shooting a free throw. We’ve got to come back for a minute. Me and Jesse (Brandt) both wanted to play (during a span where the lights were partially on and not flashing), but they wouldn’t let us,” Filippini said. “It’s going to be tough for whoever wins — they can’t prepare for Seneca. That’s going to put them behind, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
Brandt said it was tough to have the game stopped when the flickering appeared to subside and the court was lit — albeit dim and uneven — but felt that officials were looking out for the players’ safety first and foremost.
“They were erring on the side of caution. It made sense. If the lights were flashing I didn’t want to play. I’d feel real bad if Hall missed one of their free throws down the stretch because it was dark at their end. We had decent lights on our end, but nobody wants to win or lose in that fashion,” Brandt said.
The two squads battled to a 31-31 tie after three quarters before Hall managed to eek out a bit of breathing room helped by 11 fourth-quarter free throws.
Hall’s Brett Fanning leads all scorers with 25 points — 11 from the foul stripe — to go with a team-best eight rebounds.
Austen Stewart leads the Tigers with 11 points, including 3-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers. Evenson has 11 to go with a game-best 10 rebounds.
Both teams plan on a holding a shoot-around this afternoon before hopping back on the bus to close out the final 1:05 of the contest.
“The strategy is Danny is going to practice free throws all day long (today), since he’s at the line,” Filippini joked. “And Jesse (Brandt) will probably draw up the greatest three-point play in the history of basketball so we’re going to have to try to stop it. He’s got a lot of time to prepare.”
Note: With 1,208 career points, Fanning is just one tally away from topping Hall legend Rollie Himes and moving into second place on the Red Devils all-time scoring list.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.