Ball Fever entered their most recent game with a plan, as for the first time this season they knew the players on the opposing team beforehand. They knew it would be a good matchup, and they knew how important the game was because of the “huge difference between 2-1 and 1-2,” as Bernstein Bear put it during warm-ups.
Evan Egri started the game by essentially dropping the ball, sitting on it, and having it stolen from him. Onlookers began to wonder if it might be a long night for Ball Fever. Oh how wrong they would turn out to be. Following that turnover, Ball Fever scored on each of its next four possessions, not missing a field goal in the process, to jump out to a 7-2 lead.
They went cold from the field after that, however, allowing Death to take the lead at 8-7. By this point it was already clear that this referee would be calling the game much tighter than any previous referees, including from years past. The general sentiment among the players toward this change seemed to be positive, at least on Ball Fever’s side.
M.A. Clay took advantage of this to continue his perfect streak at the free throw line, moving to 10-for-10 on the season, while Egri completed a 3-point play and had a chance for another. Egri also had a put-back basket to give him 9 for the half before the whole team went cold again, not scoring for the final 5 minutes of the half. JY Jelly collected a steal with seconds remaining, but wasn’t able to put the ball within orbit of the basket as the buzzer sounded. Despite those facts, Ball Fever still managed to lead 16-14 when intermission arrived.
Egri picked up right where he left off, scoring on Ball Fever’s first offensive turn, knocking down the and-1 for good measure, and following with another field goal on their next possession. Shortly thereafter, though, Death made a free throw and then hit 3 consecutive shots to move back within two at 23-21. A quick timeout after the last shot got the defense back on track, but the offense struggled, as only 1 total point was scored for 5 minutes after the timeout.
Jelly finally broke the team out of its slump with his first two-point basket of the season, but Death again hit 3 straight field goals to actually go up by one, 27-26. Egri immediately responded once more with a drive and score, but Death had its own answer, a killer three from way outside that took the wind out of Ball Fever’s sails. Down 30-28 with 3 minutes to go, they called a timeout to get their composure back. Some players had become visibly frustrated with a call or two, and Rorogomono nearly tussled with an opposing player after he was mugged following a rebound.
Ready to play, the score held steady until less than a minute was left and Egri, for the final time, answered the bell with one more offensive rebound and one more basket. A defensive stop gave Ball Fever the final chance, but Clay passed up an open shot opportunity to make sure Death wouldn’t get the ball back, and ended up taking a much more difficult shot that wasn’t close.
So, tied at 30, they headed to overtime, which would last only two minutes. Though Death got the ball to start, Clay pilfered it back for Ball Fever. After a missed shot, Death had another opening for a clutch shot, but LexDak stole the ball and headed down the court on a fast break. As 3 defenders converged on him, he passed off to Jelly who knocked down a short jumper to give Ball Fever the lead. How ironic that Ball Fever scored the deciding basket on a fast break, their first real one of the day, when Death had been running up and down the court the entire game.
One more defensive stop was followed by some time-wasting offense and then a missed free throw, before Death’s final chance arrived. Their best player handled the ball, but Jelly and LexDak doubled him to force him to give it up, and it wound up in the hands of a player who had taken one shot the whole game. He had no choice but to launch it from distance and, although it gave the Ball Fever bench a heart attack, it clanged off the rim harmlessly as the whistle blew.
By the skin of their teeth, Ball Fever had escaped Death, thanks to Egri’s performance. He scored 19 of the team’s 32 points, including the tying basket in regulation, and also grabbed 13 rebounds. He did, however, come up short of his guarantee of 20 points and 10 rebounds.