East boys get overtime victory in Cager Classic

Saturday, April 2, 2022 | 10:50 PM

Just like the girls game at Cager Classic on Saturday at Highlands High School, the boys game went into overtime.

Armend Karpuzi of Deer Lakes hit a 3-pointer for the West with 3.5 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Unlike the girls, however, the boys only needed one extra session to decide the issue, with the East posting a 101-96 victory.

Leechburg’s Eli Rich made several key plays in the overtime to propel the East.

Early in the second half, it appeared unlikely Rich would be around to make any plays as he suffered an injury running against the bottom of the wall behind the basket.

Rich had a big 3-pointer with a minute left in overtime, stole a rebound away from Chris Dvorak after a missed West shot and gathered another rebound as time ran out.

“I twisted my knee when I was coming down. When I got up and started walking, I knew I’d be OK,” Rich said. “But this was a great event. I loved it.”

Freeport’s Jason Kijowski threatened to send it into a second overtime via a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go in overtime, but Rich’s steal sealed it.

Butler’s Raine Gratzmiller was selected East MVP, pouring in 27 points, three assists and seven rebounds.

Karpuzi was the West MVP with 25 points, five assists and three steals.

“My teammates trusted me. I felt it from the start, obviously. I wanted the ball,” Karpuzi said.

Kiski Area’s Corey Smith coached the victorious East team. He played in the event in 2002 and was an assistant coach several years back.

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