|1987 Bridgewater / Raritan High School West |
Basketball State Playoffs
|vs Woodrow Wilson in Camden (at Cherry Hill East High School)|
|The semifinal game was against Woodrow Wilson of Camden. It would be a thriller that went down to the last second.
In this game the usual stars did not have their best night, but as a great team does, the lessor players stepped up to ensure the win. Camden had a considerable size advantage over the Falcons. As the game progressed it appeared that this advantage might be too much for Bridgewater as they fell behind by 13 points midway through the second quarter. They gained some ground after that but were still losing by 7 at halftime. The outside shots by Eric Murdock and Dave Miller that usually connected were not falling. Jim Shickora made up some of the slack as he would have his best scoring game of the playoffs.
The third quarter was evenly played and they entered the fourth quarter down by 5. As they clock ticked away they closed the gap. With 2:30 to play Murdock hit a jumper to pull them within 2. Then Coach Stapleton decided to have the Golden Falcons change from their man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 defense in the hope of confusing Camden. It would prove a brilliant move. The new defense seemed to rattle Camden as they turned the ball over. Then Bill Ettel, who had not scored in the first three quarters, came alive and hit a 17 foot jumper that tied the score. Camden again turned the ball over and Bill Ettel converted an offensive rebound in a score – he was fouled on the play and made his foul shot to give the Golden Falcons a 3 point lead with 1:34 to play. Camden scored quickly on their next possession to close to within a point. Then they fouled Dave Miller as soon as Bridgewater inbounded the ball. Dave would make one foul shot. Camden then scored on a jumper and the game was tied with 43 seconds left. Bill Ettel again came through making a ten foot jump shot - where he was again fouled on the play. His foul shot gave Bridgewater a 3 point lead with 31 seconds left.
But Camden was not done. They managed one foul shot on their next possession to close it to 60-58. They fouled Lance Miller on the inbound pass. Lance converted both free throws putting Bridgewater up 62-58 with 21 seconds left. It looked like Bridgewater had it sewn up. But Camden scored quickly reducing Bridgewater’s lead to 2 points. On Bridgewater’s possession Camden fouled Murdock in order to stop the clock. Murdock would go to the foul line with 8 seconds left to shoot a “one on one”. If the shot went it, the game was essentially over. (There was no “three point shot” in High School Basketball in 1987.) The star player tossed the free throw as the crowd of thousands watched intensely, but the shot missed. On the rebound Bill Ettel, who was in the midst of the best three minutes of his career, managed to grab a part of the ball along with a Camden player. The whistle blew on the “tie up” - and fortunately the “possession arrow” was in favor of the Falcons. On the inbounds pass Lance Miller was fouled.
The clock now showed just 5 seconds left with Bridgewater clinging to a 2 point lead. Like moments before they were at the foul line where a successful shot would ice the game. But again the free throw was missed. This time Camden grabbed the rebound and raced up court. They got a shot off just before the horn sounded … everyone held their breath as the hurried shot appeared to have a good chance of landing, but it bounced off the rim and the game was over. The Golden Falcons and their fans went wild.