Feb. 17—Reading High had to survive what its coach called "the longest four seconds ever," as well as a last-second shot by one of the greatest players in Berks basketball history. It withstood both Tuesday night to finally subdue rival Wilson 62-60 in a Berks Conference Division I thriller at the Geigle.
The Red Knights (10-1, 17-1) rallied from an 11-point, third-quarter deficit and took the lead for good with 4 1/2 minutes left, but their long losing streak against the Bulldogs (10-1, 14-1) wasn't officially over until Stevie Mitchell's last-second shot came up short.
"I thought we were going to overtime," confessed Reading High coach Rick Perez. "You give (Stevie) that shot a thousand times, he's making it 999."
Wilson called a timeout with four seconds left to set up a final shot, but it struggled to find a good look.
"I thought it was over (when the ball got loose along the baseline with three seconds left)," Perez said, "but Cam (Jones) picked it up, and of course Stevie catches it in his favorite spot."
Mitchell flashed open in the lane briefly, but his rushed 10-footer at the buzzer was off the mark.
The loss snapped Wilson's 36-game winning streak, one short of the Berks boys basketball record.
It left the Red Knights and Bulldogs tied for first place in Berks I with one league game remaining, and Reading High ahead of Wilson in the power ratings, .804 to .803. Power ratings will break the tie for first place and determine the seeding order in the upcoming Berks Conference playoffs.
The teams split their regular season meetings.
Reading closes league play at Berks Catholic Thursday; Wilson closes at home against Exeter Thursday. If the Red Knights beat the Saints, then end the regular season with a win over Imhotep Charter Friday at the Geigle, they likely will enter the District 3 Class 6A Tournament as the No. 1 seed, just ahead of Wilson.
Last year the Bulldogs were the No. 1 seed and beat the the Red Knights in the championship game.
Wilson beat Reading High four times last season, then again last month in West Lawn 75-61. The Bulldogs never have beaten the Red Knights six straight times, though it looked for a long time Thursday as though they were about to do it.
Just as in the first game, the Bulldogs came out fast. Chris Vazquez and Mitchell hit 3-pointers on the first two possessions and Wilson seized an 8-0 lead in less than two minutes.
The Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half and went into intermission leading 35-25 when Mitchell hit a fallaway 3-pointer from the corner as time expired.
The Red Knights used a game-turning 12-0 run early in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time at 39-38.
Reading's Myles Grey hit a 3-pointer for a 46-42 lead before the Bulldogs came back to tie it again at 46-46 on Ryan Strobel's layup in the final second of the third quarter.
Once they had the lead in the final minutes, the Red Knights milked the clock and took advantage of their chances at the free throw line. They made 11-of-12 free throws in the final quarter. Osumanu hit both ends of a double bonus with 37 seconds left for a 61-58 lead.
Mitchell answered with a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left.
When Osumanu made just 1-of-2 from the line with 11.9 seconds left it gave the Bulldogs and opportunity to tie it. They struggled to find an open look before calling a timeout with 4.0 seconds left. They scrambled to find something off the inbounds play before Mitchell flashed open in the lane in the final second.
Daniel Alcantara scored a team-high 21 points for Reading. Moro Osumanu and Ruben Rodriguez each had 13.
Mitchell finished with 21 points. Vazquez and Cameron Jones each had 12 for the Bulldogs.
It had been more than two full calendar years since Reading had beaten Wilson.
"Resilience, man," Perez said of his guys. "I'm really proud. They know the history over the last year. Our guys were as confident and resilient as I've seen them in a long time."