The Patroons won three of their first four under interim coach Herman Kull, and were only five points away from the division-leading Grand Rapids Hoops. They were now scheduled for a two-game road trip through Washington State, and things were looking up.
The Yakima Sun Kings were Albany's first opponent on the road trip. The Sun Kings had the worst record in the CBA, and hadn't beaten the Patroons in three years (when the Sun Kings were the Topeka Sizzlers). How bad was their season? By the time Albany faced them on the road, the Suns were on their third head coach of the season.
And as the game began, Albany played like world-beaters. By halftime the Pats were up 53-48, and the only excitement in the Sun Dome that night was whether a girl would accept a scoreboard marriage proposal in the first quarter (she did).
With one minute remaining in the game, the Sun Kings were down 104-110. Enter Alex Austin.
Austin, a 6'6" guard from Arizona State, tried to shoot from behind the three-point line. Just before the ball left his fingers, Albany's Royce Jeffries fouled him. Austin walked to the charity stripe and hit 3 free throws in a row (in the CBA, a foul on a three-point shot is rewarded by three free throws). With 20 seconds left in the game, Yakima's Lee Campbell rebounded a Kenny Travis miss and fired an off-balance 3-pointer shot. The ball bounced off the rim, but Austin recovered it and sent a 30-foot jumper that went through. 3,000 fans cheered as the Kings took the Pats to overtime.
With less than two minutes remaining in OT, Albany had a 120-116 lead - until Alex Austin single-handedly reduced the lead. Austin hit two free throws and hit an under-the-basket slam to bring the Sun Kings back to a tie game. Kenny Travis got the rebound and tried a last-second basket, but his shot grazed the outside of the cylinder. End of first overtime, 120-all.
The Patroons went to Johnnie Hilliard in the second overtime. Hilliard hit ten points in a row, pulling the Pats in front again, 130-126. With seconds left, Yakima caught up again, and when Lee Campbell took a pass and scored under the basket, the game was tied. End of second overtime, 134-all.
Yakima took the lead in the third overtime. Center Scott Meents sank two free throws, giving the Kings a 146-144 lead with less than twenty seconds to go. Five Patroons pressed up the court, passing the ball around until Royce Jeffries got it. Jeffries, who had worn goat's horns when he fouled Alex Austin in regulation, shot - scored - and drew a foul. Jeffries had to make the free throw to win the game.
His free throw didn't go in. Yakima got the rebound. End of third overtime, 146-all.
The Kings' Lee Campbell slammed home a two-pointer with less than a minute in the fourth overtime. Mark Tillmon couldn't make the tying basket, and Scott Meents picked up the rebound. Albany tried fouling every player with the ball, hoping that Yakima would miss their free throws and the Pats would regain possession. The strategy backfired. The Sun Kings made their last eight free throws in a row, and won the game, 166-160. There was no fifth overtime.
The four-overtime game was the longest in league history since the CBA eliminated sudden-death overtime in 1987. Both teams combined for 326 points, a total not reached in ten years. The fans watched a 3½ hour game, a CBA record for longest game by time. Albany's 160 points were a franchise record, but Yakima's 166 were the most points scored on any Patroons team. Twelve of the 18 men on the court that night scored in double figures, another CBA record.
For the Patroons, Keith Hughes tied a team record when he pulled down 21 boards. Johnnie Hilliard had 46 points that night, one shy of the team record. But the endurance award goes to Yakima's Lee Campbell. He played 66 of 68 game minutes, a CBA record.
The Pats could not recover from the 4OT loss. They won only two of their next ten games, finished with an anemic 24-32 record, limped into the playoffs and lost a single-elimination playoff game to the Birmingham Bandits.
Hilliard 16-25 14-15 46; Brown 5-8 0-0 12; Hughes 6-22 2-4 14; Travis 11-25 12-15 34; Lewis 1-1 0-0 2; Tillmon 12-23 0-0 24; Rowland 4-14 5-7 14; Jeffries 2-7 2-3 6; Wright 4-5 0-0 8. Totals 61-130 35-44 160.
SUN KINGS (166)
McMahon 1-3 0-2 3; Johnson 1-4 1-2 3; Houston 4-15 11-13 21; Kimmie 6-18 0-0 15; Ootsey 0-0 0-0 0; Campbell 16-27 7-10 39; Meents 10-20 4-6 24; Hunter 13-24 2-3 28; Austin 11-30 9-9 33. Totals 62-141 34-35 166.
ALBANY 23-30-23-34-10-16-10-14 160 3 YAKIMA 20-28-34-28-10-16-10-20 166 4Three-point goals - Kimmie 3, Brown 2, Houston 2, Austin 2, Rowland, McMahon. Rebounds: Albany 60 (Hughes 21), Yakima 62 (Campbell 25). Assists: Albany 34 (Tillmon 9), Yakima 45 (Houston 14). Total fouls: Albany 33, Yakima 35. Technical fouls: Yakima (illegal defense); Albany (illegal defense). A-3,312.
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