By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
LA CAADA – Daniel Wohl admits that he has not been shooting the ball well of late.
Pasadena Poly coach Brad Hall had a pretty good idea why.
“Daniel had an issue in January,” Hall said. “He had a bunch of AP classes, he was editor of the school newspaper and he had a role in a dance recital. He had a very full plate.
“The semester is over, the dance recital is over and the school newspaper is out. He is 100 percent focused on basketball.”
Wohl hit a desperation 3-pointer that went through the net with 0.1 seconds to play Friday night, sending the Prep League game against Flintridge Prep into overtime. He made two free throws in the extra period to give the Panthers a four-point lead in a 61-58 victory.
“All season long I’ve been shooting a lower percentage,” said Wohl, who has committed to NCAA Division III Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. “Tonight they were falling and it feels good to win the game.”
The victory, a typical Poly-Prep matchup with a vocal, standing-room-only crowd, avenged a 57-49 Rebels victory two weeks ago. It ended Flintridge Prep’s 10-game winning streak. With one week left in the regular season, it’s likely the two teams will tie for the league title.
Trailing by three when Jedrick Eugenio made two free throws with 14 seconds to play, Wohl took a 3-point attempt that was nowhere close with six seconds to play in regulation. Hunter Merryman somehow got the rebound off the front of the rim and got it to Wohl to send the game into overtime.
“I didn’t have an open look all night long,” he said. “They were running double teams at Hunter and somehow I was open on the that last ball when they were scrambling and I knocked it down. I knew right away it was going in.”
There was no time left for the Rebels to inbound the ball.
“It’s a huge momentum shift when you think, `Hey, you almost have this thing wrapped up,’ ” Flintridge Prep coach Garrett Ohara said. “They get a good break. Daniel is a senior and an All-CIF guard. You expect him to make a play like that.”
In the extra four-minute period, the Rebels’ Kenyatta Smith missed two free throws and Grant Genske scored on a scoop layup underneath the outstretched arms of the 6-foot-8 Smith. Wohl, who had a game-high 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting, then made two foul shots for a 61-57 lead.
The Rebels’ Jared Norsworthy then missed a pair of free throws after a steal and he then made only the first of two foul shots with 46 seconds to play.
“It doesn’t boil down to one missed free throw, but too many misses down the stretch of the game,” Ohara said. “That sure takes its toll.”
The Rebels fouled Merryman, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Panthers guarded the perimeter, trying to stop any 3-point attempts. Eugenio took the 3-point shot with 4 seconds to play and a Poly player in his face. It rolled around the rim, popped up, and Smith, who had a team-high 16 points, missed the slam attempt at the buzzer. Poly fans flooded the floor.
“I always know I can count on Daniel and Hunter to score,” Hall said. “But we showed we were more than a two-player team.”
The Rebels led for most of the first 2 1/2 quarters with the Panthers somehow finding a way to rally back. They tied the score 32-32 and took a five-point lead to start the fourth quarter when Blake Edwards hit a 21-footer. It was tied 43-43 and 46-46 and the Rebels took a 54-48 lead with 1:04 to play when Poly was forced to foul and Prep made its free throws.
But Wohl made a layup and then a three-point play and the Rebels began missing foul shots, cutting the margin to 55-51. Merryman, who had 14 points, made a three-point play with 20 seconds left to cut it to 55-54.