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Timber Creek outlasts Pitman to reach second straight Tri-County Conference Tournament final

Sami Anderson scored a team-high 17 points including the game-winning layup to lift Timber Creek past Pitman, 63-61, in the Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinal basketball game played at Timber Creek Regional High School in Erial, New Jersey on Wednesday, February 14, 2024. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP - The Timber Creek Regional High School boys' basketball team jumped out to a sizable lead in the first quarter.

The lead quickly disappeared and the Chargers found themselves in need a go-ahead basket with under 10 seconds left in regulation.

Sami Anderson answered the call.

Anderson was instructed to send an entry pass to teammate Marcus Upton in the low post. A clear lane opened up for the senior guard as he drove towards the basket. Anderson made the game-winning layup with a second left in regulation to lift Timber Creek to a 63-61 win over Pitman in the Tri-County Conference Tournament on Wednesday night.

"He was supposed to pass the ball down low to Marcus," Timber Creek coach Richard Bolds said. "He saw an open look and just drove to the hoop. He's a senior so I trust his instincts and what he sees on the court."

The Chargers advanced to the Tri-County Conference Tournament final for the second year in a row. Timber Creek defeated Overbrook in last year's championship.

The Chargers opened the contest on a 15-3 run. Pitman called a timeout and quickly found its rhythm. The Panthers hit their stride in the second quarter and cut Timber Creek's lead to three points at halftime. With momentum on their side, the Panthers took their first lead of the game in the third quarter. Pitman maintained the advantage into the final quarter of play.

In the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, Pitman looked primed to run away with a victory. Timber Creek responded with a clutch 3-pointer from Upton and pivotal scores from Asa Wharton and Anderson.

Anderson and Wharton each scored 17 points. Ryan Nasuti comtributed 11 and Upton added nine. Nasuti also splashed a trio of triples in the victory.

Elijah Crispin scored a game-high 20 points for Pitman. Michael Fisicaro and Stephen Devanney added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The Chargers have been in 10 one-score games this season. The Erial program has emerged victorious in seven of the 10.

"We've been in many close games this year," Anderson said. "Coach has really prepared us for late game situations and we're always prepared for a battle when we take the court."

The Chargers reached the Tri-County Conference Tournament final for the second consecutive season. Bolds doesn't plan to dwell on last year's victory over Overbrook in the final. Instead, his focus will be on the present moment.

"We're not going to go into the game with the 'been there, done that' mindset," Bolds said. "We're going to focus on the game from this year and do what has worked this season."

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