NORMAN — Down three points to Noble with 0.43 seconds showing on the clock, its leading scorer fouled out and inbounding from beneath its own basket, Community Christian School was in need of, well, a miracle.
No problem for Alan Casiano. The senior guard stunned the Bears and everyone else in the building, delivering a 50-foot bank shot from the Royals’ side of half court as time expired, forcing the game into overtime.
Casiano then scored six more of his game-high 18 points in the extra period to lead CCS to a 61-57 victory that fans who were at Royals Fieldhouse will remember for years to come.
“It was quite a shot,” CCS Coach Culley Seymour said.
Although, the coach added, it might not be the greatest beyond-half-court shot in school history, remembering back to a buzzer beater that won the Royals the Oklahoma Christian Schools Association championship in 2006.
Now the Royals have the OSSAA postseason to think about. And at 12-2, they are hoping to sneak up on some people as a contender to make a run in the Class 2A bracket in their first year as an OSSAA member.
“This win helps people to understand that we are a pretty good basketball team,” Seymour said.
It came at the expense of an improved Noble team that was ranked No. 12 in Class 5A coming in.
The Bears (8-6) have already matched their win total from all of last year, including a pair of wins against 5A No. 10 El Reno and a pair of 2-1 tournament performances that brought home third-place and consolation championship trophies.
Noble was led by point guard Leland Palmer’s 16 points, with 10 points and 14 rebounds coming from Devin Wheeler. Austin Ladd and Jordan Palmer added nine points, with all of Palmer’s coming on deep three-pointers in overtime that kept the Bears in it to the final buzzer.
“Those guys are so quick that it forced us to play more 2-3 zone than usual,” Seymour said of the Noble backcourt. “It kind of forced our hand, but it also kept us in the game.”
Noble also helped itself with its rebounding, commanding a 44-25 edge on the boards.
But the Royals kept hanging tough, getting contributions from a number of sources on a night leading scorer Aaron Baker was saddled with foul trouble. Senior Blake Nelson had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Matt Borgerding and Nate White added six points apiece. And the Royals converted 12 of 16 free throws, including their final six in overtime.
Baker wound up with 13 points, about eight below his average, before fouling out after missing a game-winning shot attempt in the closing seconds.
Noble’s Daniel Noland, who was fouled by Baker after rebounding the shot, hit both free throws to make it 44-41 with 0.43 seconds left and seemingly icing the game.
But on this night, the fun was just getting started.
Next up for CCS is a tough field at the County Line Invitational in Cashion. They’ll be the fourth seed behind the host school and traditional small school powerhouses Coyle and Oklahoma Christian School.
“District pairings come out next Tuesday, so this is a really big week for us to make a statement,” Seymour said.
The Royals open tournament play at 5:40 p.m. Thursday against Watonga.
Noble also goes to tournament play Thursday, heading to Newcastle for an 8:20 p.m. tipoff against the host Racers.