GLENS FALLS – It was about as dramatic an ending as you can have in a basketball game.
Trailing by one point in the fourth quarter, Chatham’s Anthony O’Dell drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to hand the Panthers a 58-56 victory over Stillwater in the Section II Class CC championship game Friday night.
“We got ball in a good spot,” said O’Dell. “I saw our point guard dribbling towards me and knew I had to stay ready. He passed me the ball, I let it fly and there was no doubt in my mind I was going to make it.”
O’Dell’s shot concluded a back-and-forth title game between the top-seeded Warriors and second-seeded Panthers, with both teams having made comebacks over the course of the 32 minutes.
“I just told our kids to believe; don’t be scared of the moment,” Chatham coach John Brantley said. “I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew they were going to fight back if we were up. It was that kind of game, we got down eight early, then we went up seven or eight. That’s a very well-coached, very good Stillwater team.”
Stillwater ended the first quarter with a seven-point advantage, but Chatham took over in the second to take a five-point lead going into the half, 34-29. The Panthers outscored the Warriors 22-10 in the period.
“We’re a really mentally tough group. We’ve battled back all year when we were down,” said Stillwater coach Bruce Lilac. “We knew we were OK. We fought all the way back and took the lead and held it until a really tough shot at the end. They knocked down a three from the corner, which is one of the toughest shots to make in basketball. I tip my hat to them.”
The Warriors were able to even things up, heading to the fourth quarter. Stillwater maintained a slight advantage, heading into the final minute, leading to Chatham playing the foul game.
Two missed free throws by Stillwater, with just seconds remaining, provided the opening for O’Dell to hit the game-winner at the buzzer.
“We kicked it out and happened to get it to the right guy,” Brantley said of O’Dell. “I told him he was the X-factor this week. He wasn’t going to be as much of a focus than some of our other guys.”
“Win, lose or draw there, I would’ve felt confident with a look with one of our shooters,” he added. “We pumped him up with confidence, he was ready and he stepped up to the plate tonight.”
Matt Thorsen, who was named the Class CC Tournament MVP, led the way for Chatham with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Jacob Barcare, who made the all-tournament team, tacked on 14 points, while O’Dell scored eight.
Thomas McDonough led Stillwater with 22 points, six rebounds and two steals. Jaxon Mueller added 15 points and collected 14 rebounds. Lucas Lilac contributed 13 points and five assists. McDonough and Lilac each nailed three 3-pointers, while Lilac and Mueller were named to the all-tournament team.
Stillwater concludes its 2022-2023 season with an 18-5 overall record.
“One team definitely always ends up on the other side of it, and tonight just wasn’t our night,” Bruce Lilac said. “Last year when we made our run, we made all the big shots. We had them right where we wanted, they found an open guy and they knocked it down.”
“The kid made a big shot, and unfortunately for us, we don’t get the sectional title we were hoping for.”
Chatham (19-4) moves on to face Duanesburg (25-0) in the Class C/CC playoff game on Sunday, March 5 at Cohoes High School at 1 p.m., for the right to go to the NYSPHSAA Tournament.
Chatham 12 22 11 13 — 58
Stillwater 19 10 16 11 — 56
Chatham scoring: Thorsen 8-2-20, Kheller 2-1-6, Chudy 0-2-2, VanAlstyne 4-0-8, O’Dell 3-0-8, Barcare 5-2-14. Stillwater scoring: McDonough 7-5-22, Lilac 5-0-13, Cocozzo 1-1-3, Mueller 5-5-15, Wicheins 1-1-3. Team totals: Chatham 22-7-58, Stillwater 19-11-56.