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ROCHESTER â€” Right guy. Right look. Wrong result.
After Rochester forward Collin Harris missed his second free throw in the double bonus with 5.5 seconds on the clock, Plymouth had a chance to send the game into overtime as forward Sean Smith pulled down the rebound and hit veteran point guard Houston Hodges streaking up the floor, but a hard foul by Zebras sophomore Jonathon O'Dell spoiled the breakaway layup and sent Hodges to the line with the Pilgrims trailing by two instead.
With time expired and the pressure on, Hodges gunned his first free throw, making the second one moot, and Plymouth took a heartbreaking 50-48 loss at rival Rochester Friday.
"I was thinking it was the right choice," said Rochester head basketball coach Rob Malchow. "He made a nice play and went to the hole. He realized what was at-hand, which he could've shot the 3 for the win or get to the hole. I actually think he was probably thinking of getting to the hole, and he did. He made a nice play; that was just a tough place for any kid to be in with no time left and nobody's on the line... When it's all zeroes, that's pressure now. I wouldn't want to be there."
It was a typically narrow result for the Sectional 19 rivals, who have split their series 4-3 in the past three meetings with Plymouth holding the slight advantage. Last season, the Pilgrims claimed a two-point regular-season victory over the Zebras before ousting them in overtime of the sectional championship, and Rochester was glad to get a measure of reprisal Friday.
"When you look at the Plymouth series here in the last three years â€” two years ago we won both in the regular season and the sectional, and last year they won both. We went overtime against them in the sectional final; this time we win at the buzzer, basically," said Malchow.
"It's become pretty fun, and obviously it's just more fun when you win. They've enjoyed their share of success, and we'll take it when we can get it, that's for sure."