Both Oak Creek boys basketball coach Mike Jossie and Franklin coach Tyler Podoll did their calculations for the last 45 seconds of their rivalry game on Dec. 13 in Creek.
The Knights were up 41-39, but the Sabers had the ball and a full array of timeouts at their disposal, which they wound up using. Franklin's philosophy coming out of the last timeout was simple.
""I asked the guys, 'Do you want to go for the win or the tie?'" Podoll said, "and they said they wanted to go for the win (a 3-point shot)."
But Jossie had a sense that was what the Sabers were going to do, so he had his team come out in a 3-2 zone defense.
"We did that to prevent 3s," he said afterward.
The Sabers got a good drive, the kick went to the baseline with about four seconds to go and junior ace forward Max Alba had a good look at a somewhat contested 3 that hit the far side of the rim and bounced off.
With that, Jossie breathed a sigh of relief as the Knights maintained their momentum with the 41-39 win and improved to 3-0 in Southeast Conference play and 5-1 overall, while the Sabers fell to 1-1 and 3-1, respectively.
Jossie was pleased with his defensive gamble.
"We had worked on that a little bit (the 3-2 zone)," he said, "but when they took that last timeout, we felt we needed to stop the 3.
"The game went almost exactly as I told the guys it would. I told them that it would be a 36-minute game. Sometimes those don't break your way, but this one did. It was a very nice game; it was unfortunate that one team had to lose.
"Fortunately for us, they hit one less 3 than they needed."
Podoll was disappointed in the outcome but felt much was learned in the physically played contest.
"The defensive definitely controlled the tempo in this one," he said. "We caused them to turn it over more than they wanted to, but there was a lot of grabbing on every cut that we made. There were a lot of people on bodies (cutting through the lane). Still, we had only two turnovers in the second half and just eight for the game, and I feel the two sophomores in our lineup, in just their fourth game, were playing like seniors."
Both Oak Creek and Franklin had their regularly scheduled Southeast Conference games postponed by the snowstorm, which hit late in the day on Dec. 16 and lasted most of Saturday, Dec. 17.
The rivalry game, despite its low score, was one of surges. The Sabers took a quick early advantage at the start, but then the Knights came right back to take the lead. It then went back and forth the rest of the half with Oak Creek up, 23-21, at the break.
It remained close the rest of the game. The game went very quickly with only a handful of fouls called and only 10 free throws attempted (4-of-6 for Oak Creek and 3-of-4 for Franklin).
Franklin was led by Alba and Marcus Lee with 12 points apiece, while Faisal Obeidat had 10. The Sabers hit eight 3-pointers for the game.
"We're still making progress incorporating the football guys," Podoll said, "but we have a few more games this month, and I have a feeling that before December is through we should be where we want to be."
Meanwhile, Oak Creek forward Drew Yetka continued his hot start to the season with a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, while Jakup Sinani had 9 and Joey Zietlow 7. The Knights hit a total of seven 3-pointers. Jossie said Oak Creek has received a lot of attention since its upset of Racine Park a few weeks ago.
He said the team is still getting used to that idea.
"The press clippings are starting to catch up with us," Jossie said. "We know we have to stay focused and continue to work hard in practice because everyone is going to give us their best shot."