The Wilcox Chargers finished off league season Tuesday night with a comeback win for the ages. Taking on Lynbrook, the Chargers fell behind early in this one. The Vikings stormed out to a 32-23 halftime lead, but Wilcox came back in the second half, though, pulling within two points late in the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Chargers saw their deficit expand back to eight points before tying the game up at 55-55 to force overtime. Leading the way for the Chargers were seniors Brendon Yi and Pratinav Sharma. Yi used his crafty moves as a point guard both inside the paint and from the outside. Sharma is also a guard but plays a more power forward role and likewise scored tough inside baskets and nailed a big three.
“In the first half we didn’t play like ourselves, and that’s kind of been the story most of the season,” admitted Sharma on his squad’s slow start. “We always start off weak and the second half we turn it around. Our main focus is to try and change that and keep up the defensive intensity from the get go.”
In the final surge in the fourth quarter to force overtime it was Sharma’s tough inside basket that gave Wilcox their first lead since they led 3-2 in the first minute of the game. With just two minutes remaining, Sharma put Wilcox up 55-54. The go-ahead score came just a couple minutes after Sharma’s three-point shot pulled the Chargers back within five points at 52-47.
“Prat is probably our most consistent player on the perimeter and inside the paint,” said Wilcox Head Coach Robert Toloy. “Prat is really good at penetration, so when we run our offense and gaps open up with the defense shifting. He was real effective tonight.”
While Sharma shined down the stretch of regulation, Yi shined brightest in overtime. Two deep two-point shots put the Chargers up 59-55 to start the first overtime. There was absolutely no hesitation on taking the deep twos even with his defender still within relatively close range.
“Brendon, ever since sophomore year, he has ice in his veins,” chuckled Sharma in awe of his teammate. “Everytime in the fourth quarter, every team knows who the ball is going to, it’s going to Brendon, but they can’t do anything about it. At the end of the day Brendon is going to get his buckets. He doesn’t let anything faze him.”
Yi and Sharma were the two leaders who powered the offense, but one of the unsung heroes in this game for the Chargers was Amir Kilani. The junior forward came up big during the fourth quarter rally. Immediately after Sharma’s three brought the team within five, Kilani delivered with an acrobatic one-handed put back to pull the score within three. On the ensuing Lynbrook possession Kilani drew a charging foul at the other end.
“At the beginning of the season he wasn’t getting much playing time, but he’s been improving every day,” said Sharma on Kilani. “His role is not to score 30 or anything, it’s just to play hard, get little chip shots, offensive rebounds and defense. He does his role perfectly and buys into what we have to do. When you have guys who buy in, it’s a beautiful thing.”
With the victory, an eventual 69-62 final in double overtime, the Chargers finish league season 9-3, second-place in the El Camino division. They now await their CCS placement.