SEOUL — Osan American and Seoul Foreign have produced tight contests and exciting endings when their boys basketball teams have met the past two seasons. Wednesday’s season opener was no exception.
Paul Rader hit two foul shots and Ben Taenzler sank a clutch basket in the final seconds as Seoul Foreign edged Osan 79-78 in triple overtime.
“What a barn-burner. There won’t be many better than this one,” said Osan coach David Leighninger, who was making his debut in what’s become the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference’s most intriguing boys rivalry.
Each of their past three meetings featured last-second finishes and one-point margins.
“We both had chances to win,” Leighninger said. “We just ran out of luck. I honestly think we had the best four or five players out there but they had the best team in the end. It was a heck of a game.”
“An amazing game,” Crusaders coach J.P. Rader said. “Numerous twists and turns.”
The Crusaders led most of the way, by as many as eight points midway through regulation, as they ably responded to a variety of defenses.
Using a full-court man-to-man press, Osan whittled the lead.
Seoul Foreign missed a last-second shot in the first overtime and two foul shots at the end of the second extra period that would have won it.
“Our concern was the Rader boy,” Leighninger said of Seoul Foreign’s 15-point scorer. But while the Cougars kept Rader relatively contained, Eddie Shin scored 35 points.
Osan’s returning two-time All-Far East forwards, A.J. Scott and Steve Davis, contributed 25 and 16 points, respectively. But Terry Stephens, a transfer from Georgia, shone brightest, hitting two three-pointers and finishing with 27 points in addition to defending Rader.
However, fouls proved damaging to the Cougars, particularly when starting point guard Van Hauter fouled out. Davis and Stephens also fouled out and Scott finished with four fouls.
“It was a war,” Leighninger said. “It was a well-played, well-coached and well-refereed game. You won’t see many like it. For the first game of the year, both teams played extremely well. We had some chances at the end but didn’t connect.”