Rams earn exciting double overtime win over Outlaws

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Winnett-Grass Range’s Jacob Jessen scores on a short left-handed jumper against the Outlaws.
Photos by Doreen Heintz

Nothing can beat the excitement of a double overtime basketball game, and the boys’ game on Saturday between  Winnett-Grass Range and Roy-Winifred proved to be one of the most exciting in several years. Before Christmas, the Rams were riding high in District 8C. Their only loss was to Belt in a hard-fought contest at Belt during the first weekend of conference play. During the second weekend of conference games, the Rams defeated DGS by 2 points at home. DGS and Belt have dominated the conference in recent years.
After the Christmas break, Winnett-Grass Range lost to both Dodson and Geraldine-Highwood. The loss to the Rivals was especially disheartening to the young Ram team. After a serious illness kept 6-3 senior Cameron Wollman from playing football during his junior year, he was able to come back for basketball last season. Now the illness seems to be back, leaving the Rams without their leading scorer for maybe the rest of the season. Also, Wollman is the only senior on the Rams’ roster this year.
But one thing that can be said of this Rams’ team is they play with a lot of heart and never give up. With juniors Zane Stahl and Caleb Hess leading the way, the Rams scored a 72-67 win over Roy-Winifred in double overtime.
The Outlaws are just about as young as the Rams. There are only two seniors on the Outlaw roster. Cody Bergum is the senior leader for this squad. The rest of the team is made up of underclassmen, including three eighth graders.
Now back to the exciting game: The first quarter was a good indicator of just how close the game would be between the Rams and the Outlaws. After the initial eight minutes of play, the Rams held a 16-15 lead. There had already been three lead changes and two ties in the first quarter.
At halftime, the Outlaws had taken the lead on a 3-point basket at the buzzer by freshman Justin Stulc. The two teams headed to the locker room with Roy-Winifred leading 24-23.
In the second half, the fouls began to pile up for both teams. Both coaches, Levi Johnson for the Rams and Nick Econom for the Outlaws, had to go to their benches earlier than either wanted to. By the end of the third period, Roy-Winifred held its largest lead of the game, 39-34. Tyler Fordyce upped the Outlaw lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when the sophomore point guard scored on a layup. The Outlaw lead grew to 10 points when Bergum scored a field goal, was fouled, and hit the free throw.
With Roy-Winifred holding a 46-38 lead, Ram Coach Johnson called a timeout with 4:21 left in regulation play. After the time out, Hess came up with one of his seven steals in the contest. He was fouled going in for the shot, and only was able to hit one of his two free throws. Fordyce fouled out of the game after Hess stole the ball again. Winnett-Grass Range was in the bonus at the free-throw line, but Hess missed the front end of the 1-and-1. A short time later, Jacob Jessen inched the Rams closer with a field goal.
After a Winnett-Grass Range timeout with 3:36 on the clock, eighth-grader Brody Geer scored on a field goal for the Outlaws. Jessen came back with a three to cut the Outlaw lead to 48-44. Another Hess steal led to a layup, and the Outlaw lead was now only 2 points. A short time later, Jessen was hit with his fifth personal foul. The talented sophomore had to watch the rest of the game from the bench.
Econom took a timeout with 2:05 left in regulation play. After the timeout, Stulc connected on an old-fashioned 3-point play by scoring on a field goal and free throw, giving the Outlaws a 51-46 lead.  A layup by Stahl cut the lead back to 3 points, but Stulc came back with a layup at the other end of the court to give the Outlaws a 53-48 lead.
Stulc picked up his fourth foul on the next Ram score – a field goal by Stahl. But Stahl missed the free throw on the play. With 56 seconds showing on the clock, Bergum missed the front end of his one-on-one free throw. Charlie Keith scored on a layup at the Ram end of the floor. Winnett-Grass Range called another timeout, now only being down by 1 point. With 28 seconds left, Ryan Russell scored on a layup, but missed the free throw when he was fouled on the play. A field goal by Hess cut the lead to 1-point. The Rams stole the ball once more, and Stahl was fouled. With the Rams now in the double bonus, Stahl stepped to the line with just four clicks left on the clock. Two completed free throws could have given the win to Winnett-Grass Range. The pressure was on Stahl, especially when he missed his first free throw. Another miss would give the win to the Outlaws. Stahl calmly swished the bottom of the net to tie the score at 55-55.
The game went into its first four-minute overtime, when an Outlaw shot did not fall at the buzzer to end regulation play. Neither team was able to score in the first minute of overtime. Two free throws by Hess put the Rams on top, 57-55, with 2:49 left. Roy-Winifred’s Bryer Shultz scored on a layup to tie the score. Bergum hit the front end of a double bonus at the free-throw line to give the Outlaws a 1-point lead. With just 37 seconds left on the clock, Winnett-Grass Range freshman Mathew Weller grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. Weller hit his first free throw to tie the game, but missed his second. Stulc was called for his fifth foul against Weller. After the Outlaws put up a shot with the score tied, 58-58, Hess grabbed the rebound and raced all the way to the other end of the floor to score on a layup. With 14 seconds on the clock, Roy-Winifred took a timeout. Econom called another timeout with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. The Outlaws got the ball to Bergum, who hit a shot to tie the game as the buzzer sounded to force a second overtime. 
The second overtime featured a parade to the free-throw line for both teams. Stahl hit four free throws in a row, but a Roy-Winifred field goal and two free throws by Carter Pendegrass tied the score. Stahl scored on a layup at the Ram’s end of the court, but Bergum hit a short jumper for the Outlaws to tie the score at 66-66. After the Rams scored on a layup to take a 68-66 lead with 2:12 left on the clock, they would not relinquish that lead for the rest of the game.
In the last minute and a half of the second overtime, the Rams went to the free-throw line eight more times and converted four of the free throws for points. Meanwhile the Outlaws were never able to score a point. Winnett-Grass Range came away with the hard-fought win, 72-67.
Hess led all scorers in the contest with 30 points. Twenty-two of his points came on field goals and the rest came from the free-throw line. Hess also played a solid game at the defensive end, coming up with seven steals. Stahl added 22 points to the Rams’ total. Jessen had 11 counters before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
The Outlaws were led in scoring by Stulc with 27 points. Bergum added 15 and Fordyce scored 11 in the loss. Stulc, Fordyce and Russell all fouled out of the contest.
A total of 43 fouls were called in the contest. The Rams went to the free-throw line 32 times, while the Outlaws were at the line 20 times.
This weekend Winnett-Grass Range travels to Hobson to take on the Titans on Friday. The Rams have Belt at home on Saturday. The Outlaws battle DGS on Friday in Winifred and then travel to Highwood to play the Rivals of Geraldine-Highwood on Saturday.

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