Kale Simon almost guaranteed that Thursday night’s rematch between his Roff Tigers and visiting Allen would be much tighter than their previous meeting — a 69-54 loss — just five days previous in the finals of the Pontotoc Conference Tournament.
Boy was he ever right.
Roff standout Brendan Barr’s steal and layup with five seconds left in the game lifted the host Tigers to a pulsating 33-31 victory.
Simon’s team evened its record at 6-6 with the upset win while Allen fell to 6-2.
In the girls game, the Lady Mustangs took advantage of a cold-shooting Roff club and pulled away for a 53-31 win.
Allen stayed unbeaten, improving to 8-0 on the year while Roff slipped to 4-8.
Roff 33, Allen 31
With the game tied at 31-all, Roff got the first chance at breaking the deadlock, but Timothy Wallen’s shot in the lane missed its mark and Brady Caldwell tracked down the rebound for Allen.
Mills called time out with 52.7 seconds left and it looked like the Mustangs would hold for a final shot. But after a Roff foul, Simon quickly called time out wtih 18.2 ticks left. When play resumed, Barr intercepted a pass near the top of the key, raced down the court and hit the layup with five seconds left.
“I think a little inexperience creeped up on us right there. We had the play we wanted, but the timing was off. But we’ll fix that,” Mills said.
Barr finished with 13 points and five rebounds, but none were bigger than his final two.
“These kids are going to have perform ... we’ve got to learn to break pattern, and do things to make plays. I had a kid make a play today, and ultimately that was the difference in the game,” Simon said.
Allen was fouled (Roff had not reached the limit yet) with 2.5 seconds left and then Simon took his final timeout. Caldwell, who didn’t attempt a field goal the entire second half up to this point, took the inbounds and launched a long, off-balanced 3-pointer that didn’t hit its mark at time expired. Mills and the Allen faithful thought there was contact on the final play (by Wallen) but the game ended with no infraction.
Allen had trailed by five early in the third quarter but after Lane Mills converted a 3-point play midway through the period, the game see-sawed back and forth. In fact over the final 12 minutes there were eight lead changes and two ties.
Allen outscored Roff 15-9 in the third quarter to take a slim 27-25 advantage into the fourth period.
Wallen hit a 3-pointer with 6:06 to play to put Roff back on top 28-27, but Conner Johnson answered with a tough shot in the paint to put Allen on top 29-28.
Barr scored an easy bucket in the paint thanks to a nice assist from Wallen and then hit a free throw with 2:25 left to give Roff a 31-29 edge.
Lane Mills would hit a free throw line jumper with 2:10 to play to forge the 31-31 tie and set up the exciting ending. The AHS sophomore led the Allen offense with 15 points.
“We didn’t seem to hit the shots we hit the first time we played them. That was really the biggest difference,” Greg Mills said. “This was not one of our better ballgames, and down the stretch, they got us.”
The Mustangs couldn’t get much going offensively at all in the first half, hitting just 4-of-22 field tries. Still, Allen trailed just 16-12 after the first slow-paced 16 minutes.
“We did a lot better job of competing,” Simon said. “We have to play every possession. We can’t take possessions off. We kind of have to slow the game down a little bit and shorten it a little bit. The main thing is we kept ourself in it. We got off to a good start.”
After surrendering 69 points to these same Mustangs last Saturday, Simon gave props to his team’s defensive effort.
“We did a better job of rebounding and guarding. They’re tough to guard, and I’m proud of the way they guarded them tonight,” he said.
Luke Mullicane and Caldwell both had seven rebounds each to pace Allen while Wallen also hit double digits for Roff with 11 points, including three triples. He and Jeremy Grinstead pulled down six boards apiece for the Tigers.
Allen 53, Roff 31
Despite their shooting struggles, Roff managed to stay close throughout the first quarter and early in the second.
The Lady Mustangs would eventually take advantage of Roff’s scoring lull and used a 21-5 surge before halftime to build a 29-12 lead.
The Lady Tigers managed just one field goal in the entire first half (1-for-24).
Roff couldn’t overcome the slow start and got no closer than 14 over the final two quarters.
Carley Collard led a group of eight Allen players that reached the scoring column with 17 points while Jordyn Mills followed wih 12 points. Both players also led Allen’s defensive charge with four steals each.
Jocee Bailey was strong off the bench for Allen, adding six points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
J.J. Stewart had 10 points for Roff while sophomore Sarah Gross — who continues to take up some of the slack in the paint due to the absence of NaTosha Logsdon due to a shoulder injury — added seven points and 12 rebounds.
Allen is finished with its pre-Christmas slate but Roff finishes its 2010 schedule tonight with a trip to Calvin.