By: Tuesday and Friday
Senior Jeff Lunn hit 2 free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game to give BG a pulse pounding 55 to 53 semi final victory over Spaulding. Spaulding had a last second chance, but a Nick MacGregor 35 footer at the buzzer came up short. BG will now meet Trinity in a Holy War rematch of the 2011 title game.
"I told you I love this team" a jubilant Jim Migneault said after the game. I told him "Coach, you've been telling me that since summer league of last June, so you've been loving them for roughly the last 10 months!!" Migs said "This team has my character, which is what I love so much about them. Toscano was huge for us tonight. He had to step up tonight and he did. Even though Marandola only scored 4 points he was also huge for us. He rebounded, played defense and competed with the Spaulding Bigs. He stepped up also." With a wink Migs was off to bask in the emotional aftermath of an upset and to prepare for a state title game.
The first quarter was very well played. A combined 6 three's were hit by both teams. Big court and tough shooting background? Not in the opening quarter. John Noon had a couple of treys for BG while Nick MacGregor hit a couple for the Red Raiders. The score was 17 - 16 after 1, but at the break a point was added to a Gavin 2, which was actually a 3. Confusion cleared up.
In the 2nd quarter Spaulding looked like the team that went 4-0 in their last 4 game regular season stretch. 6 different players scored for them. A Paradis And 1 gave Spaulding their first double digit lead of the game at 27 to 17 with 5:25 left. Paradis had 7 to lead the Red Raiders in the 2nd. Spaulding was also keeping Jeff Lunn down. Lunn was score less in the first half. Spaulding took a 37 to 24 lead into halftime.
BG was facing a 13 point halftime deficit, Lunn was scoreless and CJ Boykin wasn't walking through the Lundholm gym doors. Red Raider fans were probably on their cell phones making plans for Saturday's title game at 3:00 pm. Could you blame them?
The pivotal 3rd quarter came. BG changed it up by going with a 3/4 court zone trap. This took Spaulding out of their offensive rhythm. Spaulding settled for 3 pointers, Paradis became a non factor in the Spaulding offense and Steve Toscano took the Cardinal wagon and saddled up. The 5'11 senior starting driving to the rack and creating contact and going to the line. The Spaulding backcourt was having a tough time staying with Toscano. He had 7 points in the 3rd. Jeff Lunn had 6 points in the 3rd, including his first basket of the game with 6;55 left in this quarter. Spaulding out scored BG 15 to 3 and was right back in the game.
The 4th quarter was nip and tuck the whole way. Foul trouble became an issue with both teams. Players started racking up 3rd and 4th personal fouls. The light bulbs on the Lundholm score board started flickering due to over use.... the light bulbs on the "Personal Foul" section. There was a combined 29 points by both squads in the 4th quarter. 20 of the 29 points came from the free throw line.
With 5:20 left Dom Paradis made a marvelous play when he made a steal 60 feet from the hoop. He then went coast and made a nifty hesitation dribble on Toscano to avoid a charge and finished to give Spaulding a 47 - 43 lead. Paradis was also coming up big from the FT line and it was starting to remind me of his great quarterfinal performance against North last season.
These thoughts were shattered when with 3:14 left and Spaulding with 51 to 48 lead the absolute key play of the game occurred. Paradis was dribbling the ball at the offensive top of the key. He was stripped by Toscano. Paradis tried to gain possession back legally. This turned to illegally and Paradis was whistled for his 5th foul. Any Red Raider fan would've gladly given up the layup and 1 point lead to have Paradis for the last 3 minutes. When Paradis went to the Red Raider bench the momentum and game swung to BG.
Toscano hit the 2 FTs from Paradis' 5th foul and another one with 2:32 left to tie the game at 51. Every dribble, shot and rebound was a cliff hanger. There was shortness of breath on both sides of the bleachers. The season was on the line. With 35 seconds left MacGregor hits a FT to tie the game at 53.
With 25 seconds left BG calls a TO. If you are BG what 4 letter word would you go to with the season on the line? It starts with the letter L, ends with N. BG had the ball in some inexperienced player's hands and they were dribbling on a half court and sideline tightrope when Lunn received the ball in the corner in front of the BG bench with 6 seconds left in the game. He looked up and started driving to the hoop. He was fouled with 2.9 seconds. He calmly buried the 2 FTs to send BG into the title game.
Spaulding had the game going their way. They had a 13 point halftime lead, Lunn was scoreless and they had the experience on their side for closing out the game in the 2nd half. They were strangely un Spaulding-like in letting a Boykin-less BG team back in the game in the 2nd half. The BG half court trap took Spaulding out of their game. Toscano came up big with 19 points for BG including going 11 - 14 from the line.
Jim Migneault has been telling me for 10 months he "Loves this team." I'm sure Migs is going to love playing Trinity again in a State Title game this Saturday at 3:00 pm.