Thursday, February 20, 2014

BG Beats Pinkerton in OT Shootout

It should come as no surprise that Wednesday night's Division I clash between Bishop Guertin and Pinkerton went to overtime. BG has now played in 4 OT games already this season, more than any other D-I team. They are used to tight games with the pressure on, and tonight they pulled out another one.

This game had a ton of big shots by both teams, especially by John Noon of BG (four 3-pointers including the 3 that sent the game to overtime) and Pinkerton sophomore sharpshooter Brennan Morris (17 points including five 3-pointers and with 11 points in the 4th quarter). The Astros, who typically pound the ball inside and don't shoot many threes, drained a whopping 12 3-pointers on the game. They led by as many as 10 points (it was 35-25 PA in the 2nd quarter). But BG battled back to re-take the lead and go up 60-55 on a 3 by Noon. Noon sent it to OT with a 3 late in regulation, and Kyle Gavin (game-high 25 points) scored the game-winning bucket in OT as BG prevailed 78-77 in a barn burner.

"We've had 4 overtime games now, so we're used to it" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "Our kids don't panic. Pinkerton played well, they hit a lot of threes. But John hit a big 3 to send it to overtime."

BG was playing without standout senior guard CJ Boykin, while starting forward Joe Marandola was in foul trouble for much of the game and was limited to just 4 points. Marandola picked up his 4th foul with 5:45 left in the 3rd quarter. He went back in to start the 4th, and 10 seconds into the quarter he had fouled out.

"Joe's had a great year for us" said Coach Migneault. "But we had other guys step up, we've been doing that all year. I think our depth will really help us come tournament time."

After trailing 35-25 in the 2nd quarter, Pinkerton clawed their way back to cut their lead to 37-33 at halftime and it was 50-48 Astros after 3. With the game now tied 51-51 in the 4th, sophomore guard Jack Zimmerman made a big time play - with the defender on his hip he drove hard to the rim, and with the defender still over him he went up strong for an and-1 finish. The free throw was good, and BG went up 54-51.

"The key to our comeback was definitely the press" said Gavin. When we pressed they weren't ready for it, and started throwing the ball away. Lots of guys stepped up, like Chad (Oliveri) and Alex (Arika)."

Morris answered with a hard push up the floor against the BG press and hit a foul line pull-up jumper. Noon answered with a clutch 3-pointer to make it 60-55 BG. On the next trip down the floor Matt Rizzo (13 points) answered right back with a 3 of his own to cut the G lead to 60-58. Then Morris hit another big 3 and Pinkerton re-takes the lead 61-60. Like I said, it was one big shot after another!

Most of the Astros' points were coming from Rizzo, Morris and 6-foot-7 forward Luke Rosinski (11 points) and all 3 of them are only sophomores. Then 6-foot-6 forward David Faulks had 17 points and 16 rebounds and he is only a junior. The future is bright at Pinkerton.

Kyle Lavoie gave the Cardinals the lead back with a jumper in close to make it 62-61. Alex Arika was really hustling well on defense for BG, as both teams were really getting after it. Then it was Morris again spotting up from the outside - he hit another big 3, this time from the left corner to give Pinkerton a 66-63 lead with 2:00 left. On the next trip down the floor it was Morris again from downtown, and again from the left corner. He buried the shot and it was now 69-63 Pinkerton . Morris had just hit his fifth 3 and it looks like the Astros had this game won.

Not so fast. Gavin and Andrew Williams (12 points) both scored quickly inside and just like that the PA lead was down to 69-67. BG has to foul, and Rizzo goes to the line fr a 1-and-1. He makes the first but misses the second, and that's crucial because if he had made both it would have been a 2 possession game. Instead BG gets the ball back, trailing 70-67. Who do you think is going to take the shot for Guertin? Noon of course! However he is left wide open in the corner, Williams passes the ball to him and Noon sinks the shot. We're tied 70-70, and the crowd goes nuts!

"Coach was just telling em to find a spot to get open" Noon explained. "Then Andrew gave me a perfect pass, he led me right into the shot."

Pinkerton got the ball back tied 70-70 with 18.9 seconds left. They have plenty of time to get a good looks to try and win it in regulation. Rosinski got the ball in the high post but was defended well and had nowhere to go with it. They get it over to senior guard Jeremy Dietzel (the only senior on Pinkerton's roster). With time running out Dietzel was forced to take an off balanced leaning shot from the elbow. The shot was no good, and we were headed to overtime!

In OT Coach Migneault continued to do offense/defense substitutions with Noon in the game on offense and Arika going in for defense. Williams hit a turnaround bank shot to put BG up 72-70. Dietzel fouled out. Then Rosinski drives into the lane and as the defense collapsed he threw up a lob pass for Faulks who caught the ball and laid it in while still in mid-air. We were now tied 72-72.

Again it was Williams with a clutch bucket, as he made a strong drive from up top and lefty finish. BG now led 74-72. Again PA feeds the ball to Rosinski, who powered his way inside with the dribble and went up strong with the leaner, banking it in to knot the game back up 74-74. What a great battle this was!

PA was called for a reach in foul, and they were in the double bonus, so Zimmerman (12 points) went to the line for 2. He made both and it was now 76-74 BG with 55 seconds to play in OT. Then Rizzo hit another big time shot, a 3-pointer to put the Astros back on top 77-76. BG answers back, as Gavin goes inside for a clutch basket to put the Cardinals back on top 78-77.

"It's a team game, my team played great tonight" said Gavin. "They did a great job of finding me."

Now it was Pinkerton ball, trailing 78-77 with 24 seconds left. Almost the exact situation we had at the end of regulation. In both situations, PA only needs a basket for the win and they had plenty of time to set up for a good look. But BG played tough defense, again forcing Rosinski out of the paint and forcing him to pass the ball. Rizzo got it, and attempted a leaner. The shot went in and out, and as players from both teams fought for the rebound the buzzer sounded. BG wins 78-77 in OT!

It was a high scoring game, but the bottom line is when BG needed to buckle down and get a stop they did it. PA had 2 chances to win it, one at the end of regulation and one at the end of OT. BG got stops both times. Not only did they get the stops but they did it while going up against a PA team with a 6-foot-7 and foot-6 kid out there and BG's biggest kid Marandola had fouled out which left them at a size disadvantage inside.

"We had to play tough on them" explained Gavin. "We just tried to be physical and double down if we needed to."

It was a fast paced, high scoring game right from the start. Zimmerman, Rizzo and Williams all hit jumpers early on. Then Drew reen and Dietzel both hit 3's for Pinkerton as they Astros went up 13-12. Marandola scored a tough bucket inside while drawing contact and falling down but got no foul call to put BG back up 14-13.

That's the last lead Guertin would see for awhile though as Pinkerton took over. Morris hit his first 3 of the game and it was already for the 4th 3 of the quarter for Pinkerton who now had a 19-16 lead. Gavin hit a tough leaner to cut the lead to 19-16, and it was 21-16 PA after 1.

In the 2nd quarter reen hit another 3 to make it 24-16 Pinkerton. Then came an offensive flurry, as both teams raced up and down the floor trading baskets. Gavin hit another tough leaner in close, then Rosinski made a strong post move and lefty finish across the lane, followed quickly by a 3-pointer by Gavin from the right wing and then Green answered right back with another 3 before Gavin scored 2 more inside. Then Gavin scored again, this time on a fast break layup, and we were only halfway through the 2nd quarter but Gavin already had 17 points.

The threes kept on coming for the Astros, as this time it was Rizzo who hit another. It was already Pinkerton's seventh 3 of the game, accounting from 21 of their 32 points so far. After a layup by Rosinski it was 35-25 - the Astros' largest lead of the game. Bg was forced to call timeout.

Out of the timeout is when Noon started firing away from the outside. He hit a pair of 3's and it was now 37-31 PA. Williams made an and-1 finish in transition, and it was 37-33 at halftime.

BG continued to claw their way back in it in the 3rd, even with Marandola in foul trouble. Gavin was working hard on the boards, and then hit a fadeaway jumper from the baseline. Then Williams made a layup on the break, and BG went up 40-39. Dietzel breaks the press, goes all the way to the rim for a strong finish and PA goes back on top 41-40 with 3:30 left in the 3rd quarter. Rosinski takes one power dribble and then buries a 15-footer, which was sandwiched in between a pair of shots in close by Faulks which were both assisted by Morris. Then Morris hits a big 3 to put Pinkerton up 50-42 and cap a 9-0 run.

BG however closed the 3rd on a 6-0 run, as Olivieri made a layup, then Arika got a quick steal in the back court which led to another layup by Olivieri. Bg got it back again, Zimmerman leads the 2-on-1 break and makes a nice dish to Olivieri for another layup. It was 50-48 Pinkerton after 3, and you know how the rest of the game went.

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