Incredibly, the comeback came with the 2022-23 MaxPreps National Player of the Year Cameron Boozer
on the bench after fouling out. Boozer left the contest with 55.9 seconds remaining and his team trailing 68-61 only for twin brother Cayden Boozer
to spark a furious Columbus rally with
eight consecutive points in the closing minute.
knocked down a clutch 3-pointer from the right wing with 7.1 seconds
remaining to cut the deficit to 70-69.
a pair of made free throws by Winters Grady
of Prolific Prep, the Explorers went the length of
the court and Michigan State signee Jase Richardson
an off balance 3-point shot as time expired in regulation to tie
things up at 72-72.
Columbus opened the
overtime period with the first three points after a layup from
Richardson followed by a free throw from Princeton commit Malik Abdullahi
. That gave the Explorers a 75-72 lead before A.J. Dybantsa
knocked down a
pair of shots from the charity stripe on the other end to trim the
deficit to 75-74.
A layup through contact from
five-star sophomore Jaxon Richardson
gave the Explorers a 77-74
advantage, but Dybantsa responded on the other hand with an
impressive reverse layup to cut things to 77-76.
Jase Richardson converted one of two free throws at the other end to
make things 78-76 with just over 40 seconds remaining in overtime, Jaxon
Richardson came up with a block on a driving layup from Dybantsa
forcing the Crew to foul on the other end with 14.8 seconds to go in the
Jase Richardson converted both free
throws to extend the lead to two possessions for the top-ranked
Explorers. Richardson scored all 19 of his points in the second half and
overtime in the gritty victory.
The Crew of Prolific Prep (6-1) got off to a hot start in the contest, surging ahead 15-8 at the end of the first quarter before stretching their advantage to 25-12 on a basket from St. Mary's signee Mikey Lewis
with 4:40 remaining in the second period.
Columbus responded strong to close out the first half on a 14-2 run to cut the deficit to 27-26 at the intermission.
The Explorers opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 34-27 lead. The turning point of the third quarter came when Cameron Boozer picked up his third foul with the Explorers leading 38-31.
Prolific Prep immediately responded to Boozer's absence with a 9-2 run before coming back into the game late in the third quarter and immediately picking up his fourth foul.
The Crew took a 48-47 lead going into the fourth quarter after a dominant period from Dybantsa, who tallied 11 points.
The teams traded baskets early in the fourth quarter as Prolific
Prep maintained a 57-56 advantage mid-way through the final period
before the Crew went on an 8-2 run to extend their advantage to 65-58.
Four-star Alabama signee Aiden Sherrell
converted a layup before under-the-radar junior Grady sparked the spurt with a deep 3-pointer to break the Explorers
zone. A 3-pointer from Dybantsa with 2:07 remaining capped the run
that looked like it would be the difference in the contest.
Cayden Boozer led Columbus (1-0) with 25 points. Dybantsa was the high man for Prolific Prep with 35.
The schedule doesn't get any easier going forward for Columbus with four straight contests against nationally-ranked opponents to open the season. They travel to Holiday Hoopsgiving to battle No. 9 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) on Friday and National Top 10 No. 8 Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) on Saturday before facing off against National Top 10 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) on Dec. 1.
The Crew, ranked No. 3 in the Preseason National Top 10, look to rebound with a trip to the Orlando Grind Session event this weekend where they take on West Oaks (Orlando, Fla.) on Friday and Balboa School (Escondido, Calif.) on Saturday.