By Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Aragon's Alex Manu, top, and Burlingame's Frankie Ferrari put on a show during the Panthers' 76-72, overtime win Wednesday night. Manu finished with a game-high 31 points, while Ferrari poured in 30. The win keeps the Panthers atop the PAL South Division, with the Dons now a game behind.
There were two games going on when the Aragon boys’ basketball team hosted Burlingame Wednesday night.
One was, obviously, the matchup between the Panthers’ and the Dons’ squads, a pair of teams undefeated in the Peninsula Athletic League South Division standings.
The other story line was the matchup between arguably the two best point guards on the Peninsula — Burlingame’s Frankie Ferrari and Aragon’s Alex Manu.
Burlingame ended up winning both. The Panthers pulled out a thrilling 76-72 overtime win and when the game was on the line, it was Ferrari who out-dueled Alex Manu.
“It was an incredible game to watch,” said Burlingame coach Pete Harames.
Alex Manu scored a game-high 32 points, while Ferrari finished with 30. But none of Ferrari’s points were bigger than the ones he scored in overtime. Of the Panthers’ 13 overtime points, Ferrari scored 11 — draining a trio of 3-pointers in the process, including the dagger with 22 seconds to play.
“I knew I had to take over (in overtime),” Ferrari said. “We made a few clutch shots down the stretch to win the game.”
Aragon had its chance to win the game in regulation. The Dons, who trailed 32-31 at halftime, outscored Burlingame 18-12 in the third quarter to take a 49-44 lead into the final eight minutes.
That would be as large as the Dons’ lead would get. Aragon had that same five-point lead with six minutes to play when Alex Manu hit one of his four 3s on the game, but Burlingame answered with an 11-2 run, ignited by a Kevin Abuyaghi 3.
After Trevor Pagaduan knocked down a floater for Aragon, Ferrari took over. He nailed one 3 to close the Panthers’ deficit to one, 57-56, with 4:29 left. On Burlingame’s next possession, Ferrari let fly a shot even deeper and nailed it to give the Panthers a 59-57 lead. Justin Gutang followed with a layup and, just like that, Burlingame had a 61-57 lead with 3:17 left.
Aragon came right back. Kevin Hahn drained the third of his four 3s with 2:49 left in regulation to cut the Burlingame lead to 61-60. Then, Alex Manu made the play of the night when he received the ball at the top of the key, drove the lane and converted an impossible, twisting layup and got the foul. His free throw gave the Dons a 63-61 lead with 1:40 to play.
Of course, Ferrari had a response, knocking down a shot off the dribble to tie the game at 63.
Aragon had two more looks to win the game, but neither Toby Liebergesell’s 3-pointer with five seconds left or Kono Filimoehala-Egan’s last-ditch shot at the buzzer could find the bottom of the net.
“If someone told me that we would have the ball and a chance to win … I’ll take that every day of the week,” Aragon coach Sam Manu said. “It was a great matchup. Just a fun game.”
The first half was just as exciting as the second and overtime as the two teams raced up and down the court. In the first quarter, it seemed everyone but Ferrari and Alex Manu were scoring as the Panthers built a 16-12 after eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, the point guards took over, as they played their own personal battle of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better. Ferrari scored nine of his team’s 16 points in the second period.
But Alex Manu was even better, scoring 14 of his team’s 20 points.
“When we were going back and forth, it was like, ‘OK, you scored, now I’m going to score,’” Alex Manu said. “(But) sometimes you can get carried away and get away from the offense.”
Ferrari echoed similar sentiments.
“From a fan standpoint, it’s fun to watch. But I’m always trying to facilitate the offense and when the moment (to score) presents itself, I go into attack mode,” Ferrari said.
In the end, Ferrari had just a little more support than Alex Manu did. If not for that battle, the story of the night would have been between the team’s two wing players. Burlingame’s Gutang had a monster game of his own, scoring 25 points, with nine coming in the third quarter.
Gutang’s performance was nearly matched by Aragon’s Hahn, who finished with 20, scoring 14 in the second half and overtime.
Burlingame center Nick Loew was nearly unstoppable in the post, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Aragon got 10 from Liebergesell to give both teams three starters in double figures.
“Too bad anybody loses (this game),” Sam Manu said.