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Peaster runs out of gas late in OT thriller

Feb. 28—BRIDGEPORT — The Peaster Greyhounds' impressive 2023-24 campaign resumed Tuesday night at Bridgeport High School in the regional quarterfinals against the City View Mustangs. Peaster, competing in the third round for the first time since the 2020-21 season, made the most of its most recent opportunity in front of hundreds of fans.

The game remained close throughout with plenty of excitement and neither team backing down from the moment. Four quarters of regulation was not enough to decide this regional quarterfinal matchup but, in the end, the Greyhounds came up just short in their first trip to the regional tournament in three years, falling to City View by a final score of 75-67.

"Our guys played a really good defensive quarter in the third — we got a bunch of stops and scored a ton to catch up and get ahead," Peaster head coach Stan Short said. "It was a great effort in the third, but we spent a lot of energy in order to catch up. We didn't have enough energy in that overtime period. When you're guarding those guys, you have to expend every amount of energy you have to stay with them. Most of the time, what happens is you run out of gas late, and that's exactly what happened. A lot of those turnovers we had late were because we just couldn't move — we had one guy cramping up, one guy hurt, another guy that's stiff — but you have to go score anyway, which is hard about beating athletic teams like that."

The Greyhounds and Mustangs continued to trade blows in the early going as it was a battle between a balanced collective effort from Peaster against City View's impressive 6-foot-5 senior William Jordan II. Peaster's star senior guard Jerrin Canafax broke an 11-all tie with a driving layup at the 2:22 mark and, after two consecutive buckets from City View — Peaster sophomore Cooper Anderson nailed a 3-pointer with 1:20 left that gave the 'Hounds a 16-15 lead. After that, junior post Carter Fidler put back a missed shot for an 18-15 lead with 41 seconds to go, but City View scored the last four points of the frame — including a buzzer-beating floater from Jordan II — that put City View ahead by one.

Anderson remained hot in the second quarter as he hit from deep with 3:47 left to trim a once seven-point deficit to 27-23, and he got behind the defense for an easy two in response to a bucket from the Mustangs to pull Peaster to within 29-25. Peaster closed out halftime with a Fidler layup, Canafax 3-pointer and Anderson layup to cut City View's lead to 34-32 at halftime.

In a pivotal stretch of the game, City View stormed out of the third-quarter gates on a 10-1 run, putting Peaster in a 44-33 hole. Despite that, the Greyhounds continued to chip away.

Canafax started the comeback by drilling a 3-pointer with 5:26 left in the third and Anderson completed the 9-0 scoring run with back-to-back layups that trimmed the deficit to 44-42 with 2:58 left, forcing City View to use a timeout in the process.

After that, Peaster senior Kentin Morrow scored down low on consecutive possessions that helped the Greyhounds reclaim the lead at 46-44 with 1:21 to go. City View scored the final two buckets of the third period, holding onto a narrow, 48-46 lead entering the fourth quarter of play.

Peaster's suffocating momentum continued to grow as Anderson connected from deep in the opening minute of the fourth quarter that gave the Greyhounds a 49-48 lead. Later in the quarter, Canafax scored three points the old fashioned way with 6:02 to go that pulled Peaster within 53-52. Anderson and Morrow each hit tying layups in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, until City View captured a 59-56 lead. With seconds to go, the Greyhounds got the ball up the floor and Canafax found sophomore Rhett Kelley in the corner. With 21 seconds left, Kelley launched from deep and swished the clutch 3-pointer to the delight of the Peaster faithful that ultimately forced overtime.

The early stages of the game's extra four-minute period did not fall in Peaster's favor as the 'Hounds fell behind 66-59. However, the ice didn't thaw from Kelley's wrist and shooting hand. Instead, he outperformed his previous clutch shot with another crucial corner triple. This time, he also drew a foul and made the free throw that pulled Peaster within one possession at 66-63 with 59.5 seconds remaining.

After City View split a pair of free throws for a 67-63 lead, Canafax hit a short jumper to cut it to 67-65 with 24 ticks left. Morrow got Peaster within 69-67 after he connected on a layup with 13 seconds, but the Greyhounds could not get any closer as City View was able to secure the narrow victory from the free throw line.

"Our kids fought the whole game and they never quit or gave up," Short said. "Even when they got behind, we hit the three there to tie it up and hit the four-point play later to cut it to three. They just kept coming back and I'm so, so proud of those guys."

Anderson impressed with a team-high 23-point outing while Canafax scored 15. Fidler finished with nine points and Morrow recorded with eight. Kelley added seven points while sophomore guard Cade McCullough tallied five. Jordan II scored a game-high 35 points for City View.

Peaster (23-12, 11-3) finished its season with wins in both the bi-district and area rounds, and were runners up in District 8-3A Region I.

"The seniors are really special kids, they're hard workers and they're great leaders," Short said. "They did a great job of willing this team forward. They had a great district run, a great playoff run — they're just a special group of kids. I'm really proud of all four of them — Cannon (Kelley), Kentin, Jerrin and Pat are all wonderful kids who had a wonderful season."