FORT WAYNE – In the end, the one that got away got away from Bishop Luers the least.
The Knights let an eight-point lead in regulation disappear on the wings of seven lost minutes in the fourth quarter, then the Northrop Bruins let a five-point advantage escape with 65 seconds between them and improbable victory. That led to overtime, and, thanks to Tyrell Johnson’s layup with 5 seconds showing, that led to a 61-59 victory Friday for Luers in another ending that tried the nervous system of head coach J.J. Foster.
These guys, he said, shaking his head. I guess we’ve been the cardiac kids all season.
One thing I know about them, though. You can’t count them out. They’re going to play hard, execute and make plays when they have to.
Which is pretty much the way it went Friday.
The Knights (7-2, 3-1 SAC) spent three meticulous quarters showing patience against an active Northrop zone, eventually solving it by softening it up from the 3-point line – the Knights hit seven 3s on the night – and then finding the cutter through the middle of it. It helped get them to a 45-37 lead after three, and the Bruins (4-8, 1-3), who hurt their own cause by missing 11 of 28 free throws, looked to be in desperate straits.
But a full-court press by the Bruins helped Luers suddenly unravel across the next seven minutes. The Knights made just one field goal and missed 4 of 6 from the stripe in that span, and when Jacoby Claypool drove for a reverse layup with 2:59 to play, the Bruins were even at 47 for the first time since 0-0.
Twenty-two seconds later, Enis Becirevic gave them their first lead with a pair of free throws, and when Claypool hit 1 of 2 from the line with 1:05 left, Northrop led 52-47 and had outscored Luers 15-2 in the quarter.
But then the Bruins, like the Knights before them, ran aground. A Jordan Banks hook with 45 seconds left and a pair of freshman J.J. Foster free throws with 27 seconds showing cut it to 52-51, and, after Claypool made 1 of 2 again with 17.7 seconds left, Foster took his man to the rim and kissed a layup off glass just ahead of the horn.
When I broke the man down, I just told myself get to the cup and finish and the game will go overtime, and that’s what happened, said the younger Foster, who led the Knights with 19 points.
The rest, in overtime, was the Knights going 6 of 8 from the free throw line and then Johnson, who finished with 15, getting open underneath for the winning bucket.
It was just keep our mindset right and keep going to the hole and keep playing the normal game we play, the younger Foster said.
His dad agreed.
The first half we got a little stagnant, just kind of passed the ball around the perimeter and let their zone be effective, he said. And then when we went down, we explained to them you’ve got to get some penetration and get some cutters going, and you get some easy baskets.