Pagnanelli, Clark lead Cedar Ridge past Orange 67-66 in OT

Updated: January 12, 2021

What would happen if two crosstown rivals had a classic basketball game and no one showed up?

Chances are, it would look a lot like Orange-Cedar Ridge on Monday night.

The Red Wolves, who trailed 49-31 with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter, went on a 24-7 run to finish regulation and force overtime. From there, Cedar Ridge held off its crosstown rivals 67-66 in overtime to claim its third straight win over Orange.

Among the many things that have been missed during the interminable pandemic, the absence of exhilaration of a packed gym of Cedar Ridge fans watching the Red Wolves erase an 18-point deficit in the span of 5 minute and 53 seconds will certainly be among the most regrettable locally. Instead, the crowd was limited to junior varsity players and a few family members, who will have their own stark memories regardless.

Online records indicate it’s the first time ever that Cedar Ridge has beaten Orange three straight times. In 2014-15, the Red Wolves swept the season series from Orange, but the Panthers won six straight over the next three years.

Cedar Ridge senior Luke Pagnanelli, who suffered through 1-23 season as a sophomore, finished with 17 points and five rebounds. Pagnanelli scored the opening two field goals of overtime, including a stickback basket after he rebounded his own miss, thrown towards the glass so hard it nearly shattered through the backboard.

“I was looking for somebody to pass to,” Pagnanelli said. “it was too late so I just threw it up there, went and got it and threw it back in the goal.”

Cedar Ridge sophomore Neco Clark led the Red Wolves with 19 points.

Orange senior Jason Franklin finished with 20. Once again, the Panthers lived and died with the 3-pointer. They finished 11-of-26 from downtown. Jerec Thompson had 13.

“We have to learn how to win” said Orange Coach Darryl Britt. “I think we had some mental lapses. We were in good enough position to win this basketball game and we didn’t. We should have won this basketball game. We had this game won in regulation and we didn’t seal the deal. We just have to learn how to win basketball games.”

It was Franklin and Clark matched up in the last critical sequence of regulation. With the game tied 56-56, Orange held the ball for a full one minute, 34 seconds. Franklin was isolated with Clark at the top of the key and threatened to drive on him repeatedly, but relented at the instruction of Britt. Once Franklin made his move, he extended his arm and was called for an offensive foul, leading to overtime.

The decision to put Clark in that defensive role was a daring one by Cedar Ridge head coach Jaison Brooks, who is Clark’s father. Franklin is a four-year varsity starter. Clark was in his second varsity game.

“We told him he was on an island by himself,” Brooks said. “It was just him. We just reminded him of the good habits that we try to teach. To move his feet and keep Jason in front of him.”

Leading 33-29 at the half, Orange went on a 16-2 run to open the third quarter and appears to be on the verge of blowing the game open. Jared Wood came off the bench to score all eight of his points in the 3rd quarter, including a 3-pointer off an assist from J.J. Thompson to put the Panthers ahead 49-31 with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter. 

Cedar Ridge scored nine straight points, including three-pointers from Clark and Ian Johnson, but Jerec Thompson drilled a three-pointer at the 3rd quarter buzzer to give the Panthers a 52-40 cushion going into the final stanza. 

Orange was held to four points in the final eight minutes of regulation. Pagnanelli opened the fourth quarter with consecutive three-pointers, including one in transition off a skip pass from Ian Johnson to narrow the Orange lead to 52-46. 

After a field goal from Panther center Kyle Stanley, James Raglnad went on a personal 8-0 run to briefly vault the Red Wolves ahead 56-54. Ragland canned back-to-back 3-pointers, then stuck back a miss by Pagnanelli to give Cedar Ridge a 56-54 lead. Stanley scored off his own offensive rebound to even the game. 

Ragland finished with ten points. 

Orange will travel to defending Big 8 Champion Northwood on Friday. Cedar Ridge travels to Northwood. 

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