St. Johns River has always had a reputation for being incredibly scrappy and hard to put away. Saturday's game can serve as Exhibit A in proving that reputation well-deserved.
The host Vikings battled FCCAA No. 3 Central Florida into two extra periods Saturday night before the favored Patriots finally put together a decisive run. CF survived the perilous trip to Palatka with a 110-102 double overtime victory and records of 20-4 overall and 2-0 in Mid-Florida Conference play.
The Patriots nearly had the game won in regulation, but SJR's Tony Baker hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime. That ended in a standoff too, however, as CF's Josh Proctor hit two clutch free throws to necessitate another overtime period. The Patriots' depth and talent advantages kicked in at that point, and the visitors rattled off an 11-0 run to start the second overtime and bring the dramatic game to a anticlimactic conclusion.
Ricardo Ratliffe, the recently-crowned school career scoring champion, continued to raise the bar for future Patriot scorers with a 40-point effort. Justin Cecil added 24 points, while Proctor finished with 18.
The Patriots have a few days to recover from this epic, next facing Santa Fe on Wednesday at the tail end of a women's and men's conference doubleheader. Those four halves of basketball start at 6 p.m.