COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It took two overtimes, but Northland (7-6, 7-2) defeated Mifflin (9-7, 6-3) on Tuesday in a nail biter by a final score of 72-70.
With five seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Northland was taking the ball out on their own baseline with the length of the floor to go. Junior guard Makhale Massey caught the inbound pass at Mifflin’s free throw line and used a screen at half court to get the ball all the way to the rim and finish over the defender before the buzzer sounded, securing the Vikings a league win over the Punchers.
Mifflin jumped out to an early lead through the play of junior Kendrick Frempong who had seven first quarter points and two assists, helping his team take a four-point lead into the second quarter, 18-14.
Northland took the lead at 25-24 with 3:15 remaining in the half on a three-pointer, but Mifflin would respond by going on an 8-2 run capped off by a three of their own from junior Mehki Jarrett and impressive bucket from Frempong. Mifflin took a 32-27 lead into the locker room and had the momentum going into the second half.
The lead continued to change hands in the second half as Northland began making their comeback. Massey knocked down two threes in the third quarter which propelled the Vikings back into a tie heading into the final frame, all knotted up at 41.
Arguably the most impressive play of the night came on the first possession of the fourth quarter when 6-foot-6 Mifflin senior Mikal King went up and grabbed a missed layup off the rim and dunked it with authority.
Despite taking all the momentum with the emphatic dunk, Mifflin could not keep that energy going as Northland responded with a 6-0 run through the play of senior Eldon Boateng finishing two layups through contact, giving them a 47-43 lead with 6:15 to go in the game.
Mifflin fought back however and after a bucket from senior Kennden Tyson, Mifflin led the Vikings 52-49 with 2:40 to go in the fourth quarter. A three-pointer by senior guard Jakai Watts, who was incredible for Mifflin all night, gave the Punchers a 55-52 lead in the final two minutes of the game.
After going back and forth for a few possessions, Northland sophomore guard Robert Dorsey III made one of two at the line with 46 seconds left, tying the game up at 57. Mifflin would have the ball for the rest of the fourth quarter, used four different timeouts, and never got a clean look to win the game.
On to overtime.
Boateng was big for the Vikings in the first overtime period, scoring a layup and a clutch and-one with 1:36 remaining to knot the game up at 61.
After both teams shot a handful of free throws, Northland owned a 64-62 lead as Mifflin had the ball with another chance to win the game. Frempong hit another tough bucket as he drove down the right side of the lane and finished over his defender with nine seconds left, which would send this game into double overtime.
The second overtime frame was filled with tough and clutch buckets, as the Vikings and Punchers went back and forth, trading scores. Watts and Jarrett hit contested pull-ups while Boateng and Shemar Watson made mature plays in the paint.
Mifflin once again had the last possession, letting the clock tick down until they could get the final shot. That was until the game’s MVP Massey came up with a steal and called a timeout, giving Northland a chance to win the game with five seconds left.
Massey went the length of the court, finishing at the rim and putting Northland into a three-way tie with Linden-McKinley and Beechcroft for first place in the City League North.
Massey finished his night with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals, capped off by the game-winner in an instant classic in the City League.
Boateng finished with 19 points and five rebounds while Dorsey contributed 17 points and three assists. The trio combined for 54 of the Vikings points on the night.
Mifflin saw some great performances despite just barely falling short. Watts had 16 points and four rebounds, Tyson was a force inside with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Junior guards Frempong and Jarrett also both played well for the Punchers. Frempong finished with 13 points and three assists and brought crucial energy for his team. Jarrett scored 11 in the loss.
Northland hosts Centennial on Friday, looking to keep their City North championship hopes alive.
Mifflin continues play on Friday when they host Beechcroft, which is a must win if they want back into first place in the league.