Columbia battled back from down 18 points in the first quarter to tie the score with under three minutes remaining at Lancaster Catholic in Tuesday’s Lancaster-Lebanon League boys basketball quarterfinal playoff game. Both teams were just getting warmed up.

The game ended up going to four overtime periods, with the host Crusaders prevailing, 77-70. It is believed to be the longest game in L-L League playoff history, which dates back to 1972.

“That was a great game,” Lancaster Catholic 16th-year coach Joe Klazas said. “Columbia is a heck of a team. Their guys can handle the ball, they can shoot. They’re so dangerous. We’re more of a pressure team and frustrate teams that way. They were able to handle the pressure. But we were both pretty exhausted by the end of the game.”

With the win, L-L League Section Four champion Lancaster Catholic (15-3) advances to Thursday’s L-L semifinals, traveling to Hempfield, after the Black Knights topped McCaskey 62-51 in Tuesday’s L-L Section One tie-breaker game.

But that’s for Thursday. The Crusaders were still in celebration mode minutes after Tuesday’s four-OT extravaganza.

“I’m tired. I’m tired,” Lancaster Catholic senior guard Devin Atkinson said. “But that was awesome.”

Atkinson went 15-for-15 at the free-throw line, including 10-for-10 after regulation, en route to a game-high 27 points to go along with 18 rebounds. The last four of Atkinson’s free-throws came in the fourth overtime period, where Lancaster Catholic outscored Columbia 7-0.

“I think it’s just from shooting a lot,” Atkinson said when asked about his free-throw shooting. “We really work on that. We want to make more free-throws than the other team shoots. Coach Klazas says that a lot.”

First half: The first half was a tale of two quarters. L-L League Section Five champion Columbia (14-3) settled for the perimeter, shooting 2-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, while committing five turnovers in the opening frame. Lancaster Catholic’s largest lead was 22-4 and went to the second quarter up 22-6.

Things flipped in the second quarter. Columbia attacked the rim, resulting in kickouts for open shots, converting on 7 of 11 attempts, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. The Tide defense also forced three second-quarter turnovers. Lancaster Catholic shot 4-for-12 in the second quarter and went to the half up 35-28.

“We want to play with confidence and shoot with confidence,” Klazas said. “We rushed through things at times. We have a 20-pass mentality before getting a shot. We broke away from that a little bit.”

Second half: Columbia cut the deficit to 53-48 at the end of the third quarter, and outscored the Crusaders 9-4 in the fourth quarter, tying it 57-57 on a Kerry Glover layup with 2:44 remaining in regulation. That ended up being the score heading to the first overtime period.

Overtime: A Robert Footman jumper tied it for Columbia, 63-63, with 0:58 left in the first overtime, and Lancaster Catholic was unable to get a shot off in the remainder of the period.

A layup from Columbia’s Michael Poole, Jr., and free-throws from Atkinson tied it at 65-65 with 2:43 left in the second OT. The Tide chewed 2:33 off the clock and called a timeout. But Columbia layup and putback attempts were no good.

Mason Moore (18 points, six rebounds) tied it at 70-70 on a layup with 23 seconds to go in the third OT period. Columbia had a chance to win it when Lancaster Catholic was whistled for a foul with 1.5 seconds left, but the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw attempt missed and kept the game going into a fourth OT.

Two other Lancaster Cahtolic players finished in double-figures scoring: Nevin Roman (13 points, two rebounds) and Ross Conway (11 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

Columbia was paced by Glover (16 points, four assists, three rebounds), Brady Smith (16 points, nine rebounds, two blocks), Michael Poole, Jr. (14 points, six rebounds), Brelon Miller (11 points, two rebounds, two assists) and Robert Footman (11 points, six rebounds, four assists).

By the way, Lancaster Catholic and Columbia entered the night as the top-two teams in the District 3-3A power ratings. So there’s a good chance they’ll see each other again in a couple of weeks.

“We very much could do that,” Klazas said. “That’s what we talked about. We celebrate today and get back to work tomorrow. We look at the league playoffs as our second season. Our third season will be district play.”

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