It was clear from the begging that the Scots were ready to play for the large home-team crowd that gathered for the much anticipated, inter-conference matchup.
The Scots jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead against the Rams who were having a hard time hitting their shots. It took Central Catholic until 5:47 in the first quarter to get on the scoreboard.
“There was not enough player movement” Central Catholics head coach Dan Munson said about the Rams offense. “So we were trying to attack to soon.”
The Rams offensive woes continued through the entire first quarter as the Rams only managed to score 8-points and trailed the Scots 16-8 after Rams junior guard Mitch Franz had two turnovers in the last minute of the first quarter.
By 6:10 in the second quarter it was clear that for Central Catholic to stay in this game senior forward Danny Brakebush was going to have to carry his team who had scored 11 of Central Catholics’ 14-points after not hesitating to shoot a 3-point-shot form NBA range.
12-minutes into the game, the Scots had enough of Brakebush and David Douglas made the adjustment to send the double team his way. The double team forced teammates like senior point guard Lucas Hunter who finished with 12-points and senior center Austin Dyer who had 13-points to start making plays for the Rams.
After a Hunter 3-pointer and a Dyer layup, the Rams were trailing the scots by 3-points with 40 seconds left in the first half.
It was once again the Brakebush show but this time as a distributer as he dished out an assist to senior forward Julius Gakwasi for a quick 2-points.
With only seconds left in the half, David Douglas was charging down the court with one last attempt to score a basket when Brakebush ended up with a steal and turned that into another assist as he forwarded the ball to Franz for a buzzer beating layup and their first lead of the game.
At halftime it looked as though momentum had changed as Central Catholic cut an 8-point deficit to a 24-23 lead over the scots.
“They have a good mix of players and can go inside or outside,” Scots head coach Chad Reeves said about Central Catholic. “And then they bring more athletes off the bench and wear you out.”
Coming out of the half, the Scots were once again showing signs of life as they raced out to a 35-26 lead over the Rams due to a 12-2-point run lead by the Scots talented senior point guard Kevin Hurley who finished the night with 19-points.
“The hardest thing about Hurley is he has second and third moves,” Munson said. “We would stop his initial penetration and then he would do something like a crossover or spin move to keep his drive alive.”
It was at the 4-minute mark when the Rams were able to slow down Hurley and once again it was Brakebush to brake the momentum that the Scots had gained in the third quarter by hitting back-to-back, 3-point-shots and cut David Douglas’s lead to only 3-points.
“They hit a couple big 3′s,” said Reeves “I think it took the crowd out of the game for a little bit.”
By the end of the 3rd quarter the Scots 9-point lead was whittled down to only a 2-point, 39-37 lead.
In the fourth quarter, both teams looked desperate to pull away from one-another and it became a back and forth battle between the two.
As the quarter continued, both Hurley and Brakebush fell prey to their aggressive play and fouled out of the game leaving it up to their teammates to win.
With less than 2-minutes left the Scots, trailing only 48-47, were advancing the ball with their crowd back, chanting: “We believe that we will win.”
However, the Scots made two key turnovers that the Rams turned into 4-points forcing David Douglas to foul Rams players in the last 40 seconds of the game.
With 18 seconds left in the game, Scots senior forward Tanner Adrian hit a 3-point shot to keep the Scots within one possession.
Trailing the Rams 57-54 the Scots had the ball for one last 3-point attempt when Dyer made the biggest play of the game with 9-seconds left in the fourth and tapped the ball away for a steal, sealing the 57-54 victory for Central Catholic.
“I think we might have overlooked them,” Dyer said about the hard fought game “you could tell they wanted the win ‘til the end.”
-Story by Jesse James, photos by Brett Stanley, NWPreps.net