By Regina Shiroma
They had the best record all season, and on paper, they looked like they had the win in the bag. They were bigger and stronger, but in a night of upsets, the Okkodo Bulldogs overthrew the top-ranked FD Friars 62-45 in their semifinal bout Thursday night at the JFK gym.
“It feels good to finally beat that top team. Even though they were way bigger than us, we knew we could fight; we could put up a game with them,” said Okkodo’s Aaron Blaz who was a big defensive help throughout the game.
After five lead changes and three ties, the Bulldogs began to pull away with less than four minutes left on the clock. Tied at 41-all, Bulldog’s Joseph Ruppen dropped in a layup and on his way down was fouled. Ruppen made the and-one shot and the Bulldogs took off from there. With one minute, forty left in regulation, Okkodo’s Keeno Madrazo took a wide open shot at the three that had the northern school’s fans jumping to their feet, holding three fingers in the air as the ball swished through the net. Now leading 49-43, the fans became more antsy as the end came near. The Friars saw some life when Christian Chang scored a quick basket off an inbound play, however this would be the last basket of the game they’d make with one and a half minutes left.
Scrambling for the ball, FD committed numerous fouls giving the Bulldogs five opportunities at the line. Going 10 for 11, Okkodo jumped ahead 59-45 with 30 seconds left. Sensing the victory, the Okkodo crowd began to cheer for their team. Blaz intercepted a pass and converted the layup to seal the deal. And for the icing on the cake Garren Reyes scored their last points of the game right before the buzzer went off.
Blaz proved to be a defensive threat tallying five steals (three in the fourth quarter) and grabbing six rebounds.
“The coaches told me every time out, entering the half, ‘Just move your feet, work on that D.’ In my mind I was like, I don’t care about scoring, I want to play D for the team,” said Blaz.
On the other side of the ball, Ruppen was a thorn in the side of FD’s defense. Ruppen led with a game high of 24 points, including three and-one plays.
“We’re going to practice hard, get lots of rest and hopefully…win,” said Ruppen after the game.
The Bulldogs will face the St. Johns Knights in Saturday’s championship game at the UOG Field House at 7P.M. Watch live video streaming of the game from the GSPN website!
WATCH THE KNIGHTS AND BULLDOGS LIVE ON WWW.GUAMSPORTSNETWORK.COM SATURDAY NIGHT AT 7 P.M.
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