MANASSAS — They may be the unlikeliest of rivals, one a Group AAA member of the Cedar Run District and the other a Group A participant in the small-school Bull Run. But on the basketball court, Osbourn Park and Brentsville are neck-and-neck.
The Yellow Jackets, who squandered a nine-point second half lead, needed a late rally from seven down and questionable traveling call on the Tigers’ Brian Owen with four seconds left to get past their smaller rivals for the fourth straight time, 71-67.
“Every time we play it’s a hell of a game,” said Osbourn Park’s Dan Lawray, whose team won its opener and doesn’t play again until Dec. 10 against Stafford. “It’s been that way for three years now. We played them three times last year and they were all nip-and-tuck games.
“This is bigger than any rivalry in our district,” said Brentsville head coach Doug Poppe, whose team will move up to a Group AA district next season. “Every game last year was close. This one was close … We lost to them in camp on a last second shot.”
After the Tigers outscored Osbourn Park 18-4 in the third period and matched an early fourth-quarter scoring flurry, Brentsville looked like it had solved the Yellow Jackets. The hot-shooting Jackets of the first half (16 of 35, 46 percent) had cooled off, and the Tigers were getting baskets on lob entry passes and back-door cuts.
Ramsey Boyd found Sam Huff cutting to the basket from the wing for a layup that put Brentsville ahead 62-55 with 4:57 left. But the Yellow Jackets got a turnaround jumper in the post and two free throws from Adam Hinton-Moore, who finished with a game-high 23 points. A Jon Pierce layup and free throw later, and the Yellow Jackets were within two at 64-62.
Free throws, including two from Todd Brannan with 31 seconds left, tied the score at 66.
Hinton-Moore tipped an inbounds pass to James Broderick for a layup, and Huff made one of two free throws with 20 seconds left to keep Brentsville within one.
On Osbourn Park’s attempt to break the full court press, Huff tipped a Yellow Jacket pass to Colin McCarron, and the Tigers called a timeout.
They got the play they wanted, as Boyd dribbled up court and gave the ball to Owen curling off screens from the low block. A whistle blew as Owen went up for a 3-pointer, with the official later explaining to Poppe that he thought Owen took a hop step before the shot.
With four seconds left, Osbourn Park closed out the win with free throws. In the final 3:07, they made 10 of 13 from the line, while the Tigers hit just 3 of 8.
The Jackets’ third-quarter struggles (their only two baskets were Broderick and Hinton-Moore dunks) turned what they thought might be a solid win into a scrap. And they could feel it happening.
“Coach kept telling us we’re letting them hang around,” said Hinton-Moore. “We got an eight or nine point lead and we got comfortable. Before you knew it, it was just like he said, it came back to bite us in the butt.”
One of the Yellow Jackets’ wins over Brentsville last year came on a Mike Sprow buzzer-beater.
“They’re fun games to coach in,” said Poppe, who told his team they need to learn to finish off games. “They’re getting tougher for us, because we can’t seem to put it all together at the end to beat them.”