It was the second overtime Friday night, and the Missoula Loyola Rams finally towed a grudging smile out of coach Scott Anderson.
Those were the good times for the seventh-ranked Rams, when they finally took control and won their District 5-B boys' basketball showdown over Superior, 73-64, at the Sister Rita Activity Center.
The win left Loyola all alone in first place with a 5-0 league mark, and dropped the young Bobcats to 4-1.
But even that couldn't quite wipe the memories of the first two quarters from Anderson's data base. Superior behemoth Colin Donovan blocked three Loyola shots in the Rams' first three possessions, and Loyola went on to shoot a meager 22 percent before halftime.
The 6-foot-7 Donovan, who finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds and five shot blocks, hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left and two Rams in, if not quite his face, his neck region to send the game into its first overtime.
Loyola's Dustin Degen scored five of his team's six points OT and Jake Grimstad hit the second of two free throws with 2.7 seconds to go to force yet a second extra stanza.
The Rams' Willie Stack, who finished with a game-high 29 points, got five in the last four-minute period after Nate Tschida got the roll going with a 3-pointer, and Superior finally ran out of gas.
Grimstad and senior Tim Anderson each finished with 15 points for the Rams.
"It was a great high school basketball game, but I'm furious with my kids and they know it," Anderson said. "I told 'em the first half was probably the worst half of basketball in 10 years that I can remember."
Donovan was largely to blame. Bound for Washington State on a football ride, the athletic giant forced Loyola into an uncharacteristic zone defense and changed much of what the Rams wanted to do on offense.
He set the tone during a series of Loyola shots in the first minute of the game, swatting away inside shots by Tim Anderson twice and another by 6-4 Nate Parker. Teammate Drew Suckow also rejected a couple of attempts, and Loyola went on to hit just 3 of 19 shots in the first period, or 16 percent.
"He does that," Coach Anderson said of Donovan. "I've seen him do that. He's just a man-child. But you've still got to attack."
The Rams didn't, for long stretches.
"We were timid, we were scared, we weren't attacking," Scott Anderson said. "We let 'em just dominate us. It was infuriating because we come in at halftime and there was no adjustment to be made, it was all about basically heart and not being afraid."
Superior, meanwhile, played efficient basketball. The Loyola zone succeeded reasonably well at keeping the ball out of Donovan's hands down low. But junior Dustin Feasel, who finished with 18 points, and Suckow, who had 12, made hay when the big guy couldn't.
The Bobcats used a patient passing program, hit their open shots (12-for-20 in the first half) and led 27-18 at intermission. They pumped that up to a 12-point margin on a three-point play by reserve guard Cody Hollenback early in the third quarter, just before Stack and Grimstad led Loyola back.
The Rams caught their guests for the first time on Stack's 3-pointer with 3:17 left in regulation, which tied the score at 45 apiece. Stack hit another bucket and a free throw down the stretch.
"We just got a little worn down there," said Superior coach Chris Toivonen, who played just one senior (Donovan) after graduating five last year. "Turnovers hurt us. We got a little excited, the game's close, here they come and there's something about experience and being there in close games. Hopefully it's something we can get better at it."
Loyola led 50-49 when Tim Anderson missed a pair of foul shots with 22 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. But the senior southpaw got the same chance 10 seconds later and buried both to put the Rams up by three.
Donovan, who hit four 3-pointers in a win over Alberton last week, hadn't attempted one this night but it was time to try.
"He can shoot threes," Toivonen said. "I told him in the huddle we're having a tough time getting you the ball inside, so just run a little pick-and-pop out to the three. Loyola defended it very well, they switched on it. They knew they needed to defend the three. Colin just made a great shot on it.
"That's the kind of player he is. He's just an outstanding player. If you're going to have one senior, he's a good one to have."
"He's just an amazing post player," said Tim Anderson, who shook off the early yips to help Stack pierce Superior's zone during the comeback. "He's got size, and he knows how to use it."
Dononvan, who scored all 10 overtime points in a December win over Seeley-Swan in which he scored 55, had just one free throw after regulation this time. He did add three rebounds to his ledger in the second overtime.
"I thought we played smart in the fourth quarter and then in the two overtimes," Scott Anderson said of the Rams, who outscored Superior 55-37 after halftime.
The two teams meet again Feb. 6 in Superior in the regular-season finale. Loyola (8-4 overall) gets little rest before it takes on another 5-B contender, Florence, on the road Friday night. Superior (7-3) meets District 6-B Plains in a home game on Saturday.
Superior 16 11 15 10 6 6 - 64
Loyola 10 8 18 16 6 15 - 73
SUPERIOR - Drew Suckow 5-6 2-4 12, Jared Smith 2-6 0-0 5, Colin Donovan 8-13 4-8 21, Blake Williams 2-4 1-2 5, Dustin Feasel 7-12 4-5 18, Steve Neu 0-1 0-0 0, Cody Hollenback 1-1 1-1 3, Josh Stroot 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-43 11-18 64.
LOYOLA - Jake Grimstad 4-12 5-7 15, Mike Cooley 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Parker 0-3 0-0 0, Williie Stack 9-23 10-16 29, Tim Anderson 5-13 5-13 15, Ike Anderson 1-2 0-0 3, Dustin Degen 3-4 1-1 7, Nate Tschida 1-5 1-2 4. Totals 23-62 22-39 73.
3-point goals - Superior 3-7 ("Donovan 1-1, Williams 1-2, Smith 1-3, Loyola 5-20 (Grimstad 2-4, I. Anderson 1-2, Tschida 1-5, Stack 1-7, T. Anderson 0-2). Fouls - Superior 24, Loyola 18. Fouled out - Degen. Rebounds - Superior 33 (Donovan 16), Loyola 37 (T. Anderson 11, Grimstad 8). Turnovers - Superior 28, Loyola 15.