CASEY – The big showdown was only a part of the overall show.
Murad Abbed provided the biggest storyline Friday night in the championship game of Casey-Westfield's Class 2A boys' basketball sectional.
With 6-foot-10 team- mate Trey McCorkle, from Bismarck-Henning, locked in an inside duel with Olney East Richland's 6-11 Keane Thomann, it was the 6-foot Abbed who kept the Blue Devils in the lead for 34 minutes, 21 seconds of the 36-minute overtime thriller.
"It was an absolute war, and they controlled most of it," Olney coach Rob Flanagan said.
The final seven seconds – and the Elite Eight berth – belonged to Olney.
The Tigers' Thomann nailed two free throws with :07 left in OT, accounting for the final points in the Tigers' rousing 65-63 conquest.
Abbed scored a game-high 29 points, including a three- pointer with 27 seconds remaining that created a 63-63 deadlock.
Flanagan disputed the contention that Abbed took over for a while.
"A while? How about 36 minutes?" Flanagan asked. "That's how long he took over for. He's awfully good. Some college needs to latch on to him."
Thomann felt he held his own against McCorkle. It was a different story on the perimeter, he said.
"We had our best defender on Abbed (Kory Dunn) and couldn't shut him down," Thomann said. "He's a great shooter."
Abbed was 12 of 19 from the field, including 5 of 7 on three-point attempts.
The loss ended Bismarck-Henning's best season with a 29-3 record. The Blue Devils made 52 percent of their shots and played almost the first 12 minutes of the second half without a turnover.
"I don't think any players regret anything," Abbed said. "That does make it (the loss) easier to accept."
McCorkle converted a three-point play in the opening minute and Abbed followed with a basket, giving B-H a 5-0 lead. Olney didn't catch up for the first time until creating a 51-51 tie with 3:17 left in regulation.
"This was two teams that played hard, two teams that probably should be playing in Peoria (state), but happened to play in the sectional finals," B-H coach Mike Reynolds said.
The coach was pleased that fans in the near-capacity crowd of 2,500 got to see Abbed display talent Reynolds has witnessed throughout his career.
"If anyone had doubts (before the game) and saw this, they know he's one of the best in the state," Reynolds said. "When he plays with intensity and intelligence, no one is better. He's going to be a college player."
B-H lost McCorkle to fouls with 12 seconds left in regulation. That led to an unexpected start for Olney in overtime.
"We expected to get the tip," Flanagan said.
Instead, Abbed outjumped Thomann and 19 seconds later hit a three-pointer to push the Blue Devils into the lead.
"That is the best-coached team we've played," Flanagan said, "and Abbed is terrific."
McCorkle scored 15 points. B-H teammate David Ingram had eight points, seven assists and five steals.
Thomann led Olney with 25 points. During the minutes he and McCorkle were on the court together, McCorkle held a 15-14 edge in points scored.
"I wouldn't take back anything with these guys," Abbed said. "We had to fight through adversity, and we did that."
After Thomann's tiebreaking free throws in the waning seconds, B-H took the ball out of bounds. Before Ingram could get the ball over halfcourt, he was fouled at :04.
It was only the sixth team foul on the Tigers. B-H took the ball out of bounds again, but Ingram was unable to get off a potential game-tying shot before the final buzzer.
Olney held a 17-4 edge on free throws attempted.
"We gave it everything we had," Reynolds said. "Just one or two plays here or there, and we'd be going on."