In a hard fought, defensive struggle it was the Bishop Brady boys basketball team which made enough plays offensively to pick up a win in Division II that will be crucial for tournament seeding.
A combination of good defense and poor shooting on both sides resulted in a low scoring game. Bishop Brady senior forward Jack Yvars missed a pair of free throws which would have likely won the game for the Giants in regulation. But he made up for it in overtime with 5 BIG points, including a three-pointer from the wing which proved to be the difference.
"Before overtime I just told him that the only way anyone will be mad at you is if you hang your head" said Bishop Brady head coach Mark Yeaton. "But he didn't hang his head, he went out there in overtime and scored 5 points and played some great defense."
Bishop Brady ended up winning it 48-44 in overtime, to improve to 7-4 on the season.
Brady led by as many as 8 in the 1st half, as 5'11" freshman point guard Jourdain Bell put on quite a show during the 1st 2 quarters of play. He scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the 1st half, and also jumping the passing lanes and grabbing steals on defense. He hit a nice pull-up in the lane, then came down on defense and stole the ball and laid it in on the other end. That put the Giants up 15-9 with 1 minute left in the 1st quarter.
Also helping Brady build an early lead was their ability to block shots. St. Thomas was slashing to the basket, hitting cutters and creating good looks in the paint but Brady kept blocking their shots. Bell, Yvars, Dylan Thomas and Stephen Desmarais all had blocked shots in the 1st quarter.
Helping to keep St. Thomas in it was 6'0" junior guard Jon Nartiff. Nartiff hit some mid-range jumpers but scored most of his game-high 18 points by taking the ball strong to the rim and finishing through contact. The Saints main scorers are Nartiff and senior guard Andrew Kahr. Kahr had a tough night shooting the basketball. He scored 9 points but went just 2/17 from the field. Kahr is a very good shooter, but it just wasn't his night. Nartiff picked up the slack though, and senior forward Chris Haaser also did a nice job inside, getting some offensive rebounds and put-backs en route to 8 points and 8 rebounds on the game. He also took a charge in the 2nd quarter.
"I think we took bad shots during stretches in that game" said St. Thomas first-year head coach Pat Quinn, who takes over for long time coach and hall of famer Dan Parr (now coaching the Portsmouth High girls team). "The effort was there tonight, but we have to learn how to score when the outside shots aren't falling."
St. Thomas was able to close within 3 points at halftime, trailing 25-22. For the remainder of the game it was very close, with Bishop Brady leading pretty much the whole way but never by more than 5 during the 2nd half. After another nice and-1 finish at the rim on the break by Nartiff the Saints took a 32-31 lead late in the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately for them it was the last time they would see the lead the rest of the game. It was tied up at 33-33 heading to the 4th.
Desmarais hit a clutch three-pointer off the catch on the wing to start the 4th quarter and put Brady up 36-33. Soon after that Nartiff hit a nice floater in the lane to tie it back up at 37-37. Then the offenses really started to slow down for both teams. The defensive intensity picked up on both sides in the 2nd half, and the shots stopped going in. With 2 minutes left in regulation it was tied once again 39-39.
"We did a good job of getting back on defense and getting out on their shooters" said Coach Yeaton, who is in his second season at the helm. "But at the same time they did not have a good shooting night."
After yet another blocked shot by Thomas (who also chipped in with 6 points), STA was able to get the ball back with 49.8 seconds left and the score still tied 39-39. Despite the fact that there was still a lot of time on the clock the Saints were trying to hold for one last shot (good move of course). They called timeout with 11.5 seconds left on the clock. Nartiff got a good look at a 15-footer from the baseline off the inbounds pass but it rimmed out on him and Brady got the rebound.
The Giants had possession and one last chance to win it in regulation. Yvars went to the basket strong, drawing a foul and getting to the line for 2 shots with just 3 seconds left. That's when he missed both free throws. Kahr made a last second shot attempt from half curt but it was no good. We were headed to overtime.
After having a big 1st have where he was slashing to the rim, hitting jumpers, grabbing rebounds, getting steals and making nice passes Bell was very quit in the 2nd half. He forced some things in the 2nd half, and St. Thomas clogged up the middle defensively to take away his dribble penetration.
"He's a very athletic kid and is good with the ball, especially for a freshman" said Coach Quinn. "But we made some adjustments at halftime to contain him and just trid to make someone else on their team beat us."
Going into the overtime period though all you could hope was that Brady could pull out the win because otherwise you know that Yvars would just feel terrible for missing those free throws. Well not only did Brady win, but Yvars played great in OT to redeem himself, which was really nice to see.
Yvars made a strong back to the basket and finish inside to put the Giants up 41-39. Nartiff answered right back though with a shot in the paint to tie it right back up at 41-41. You could really feel the intensity in the gym, as these 2 private schools battled it out. Desmairas then hit a shot on the baseline to once again put Bishop Brady back on top (this time for good).
Then came the shot of the game. Just over a minute left in OT, Brady has the ball up 43-41. Your opponent is in the bonus so of course in this situation you want to run the clock, protect the basketball and only shoot it if you have a layup. However Yvars found himself open on the wing and took an ill-advised three-pointer with about 45 seconds left. It was one of those shots where if it goes in it could be the dagger that wins you the game but if it's no good and could open the foor for the other team to come back and beat you. But fortunately for Yvars and the Giants the shot went in, putting them up 46-41. That lead proved to be insurmountable for St. Thomas.
The Saints didn't give up yet, though. Senior guard Lucas Gabriel answered right back with a three-pointer of his own with 34.7 seconds left in OT. That cut the Brady lead to 46-44, and STA still had hope after that because bell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 so they got the ball back down by 2 plenty of time to get a good look.
They could have gone for a 2 for the tie or a 3 for the win - they went for the win. Kahr (who again is a very good shooter but his outside shot was off all game) got a good look at the basket from the top of the key. Just as the defender was closing out he took the shot. It was no good, and Brady got the rebound with just 4 seconds left. Desmarais got fouled and made both FT's, making it 48-44 Bishop Brady with just 3.9 seconds left. That was the ball game, and despite the fact that STA had a HUGE win last week over Portsmouth they are now just 4-5 on the season.