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Gamm scores game-winner with 31 seconds left as Rockford upsets East Kentwood, 53-52, to stay in OK Red race

By: Steve Vedder, January 26, 2016, 10:39 pm

Rockford – Ryan Gamm likes the idea of being in a race where nothing is likely to be decided until the season’s final week.

That’s exactly where his Rockford teammates find themselves after Tuesday’s wild 53-52 win over East Kentwood that throws the O-K Red Division race into an up-for-grabs scramble with the schedule’s halfway mark coming up next week.

Gamm’s layup with 31 seconds left was the game-winner in a contest that saw the Rams let a seven-point lead slip away in the last 5:42. East Kentwood, division champs four out of the last five seasons, including last, had taken a 52-51 lead on a basket by Micah Rosser with 1:20 to go.

The Rockford win leaves the OK Red with five of six teams possessing two losses or less. The win also comes on the heels of a critical three-game swing for Rockford (4-6, 2-2) that included a win over Hudsonville and a loss to once-beaten Grand Haven.

"Any time you beat teams like Hudsonville and East Kentwood it’s great," said Gamm, who dodged foul trouble to finish with 13 points. "All we can do is go out and play and the wins and losses will come."

Rockford led by as much as 26-17 with five minutes left in the first half while East Kentwood led just twice, the second time on Rosser’s basket.

With as many as five teams harboring title hopes coach Nick Allen wouldn’t predict how many losses the eventual division champ could have. He does hope his Rockford team will be playing meaningful games in late February.

"We have two (losses) so I hope it’s two," he said. "We’ve got a great group of kids with great leaders. They play with a lot of confidence that they can get it done."

Senior forward Michael Peterson led the Rams with 19 points.

Rosser, a senior guard, led the Falcons with 19. Andrew Madison had 10.

Gamm would like to believe his game-winner keeps the Rams in title contention. In the meantime, he said the basket was a thrill.

"I set a screen and rolled to the basket and Nolan (Bryant) made a great pass and I just finished," he said.

East Kentwood (7-3, 2-2) suffered its first home loss in the division in two years on Jan. 15 against Grand Haven. Coach Jeff Anama said the title is up for grabs, though he wouldn’t put a finger on how many losses the league champ will have.

"The gap between OK Red teams isn’t that great," Anama said. "We’ve always found ways to win close games and I give Rockford credit. We’ve got a veteran team and they made some mistakes. We’d make a play, then have a turnover or take a bad shot. But it’s still early. We were on the road tonight and they’re a good team that played hard against us."

Allen said he’ll be happy to take winning two of three in the stretch against Hudsonville, Grand Haven and East Kentwood, which took a combined 28-5 mark into Tuesday’s games.

"We wanted three of three. That was our goal. But they’re really good teams," he said. "We know if we didn’t show up and execute that teams will take advantage of that."