(Notre Dame, IN) The Fourth Seeded Holy Cross Saints hosted their first ever CCAC Tournament Game today as they took on the fifth seeded Trolls of Trinity Christian.
It was the biggest and loudest crowd ever to see a game in McKenna Arena, and the fans were not disappointed as junior Yama Kader hit a jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Saints over the Trolls 78-76 in CCAC quarterfinal matchup.
The game was very tense early on as neither team could build a solid lead as the game was tied seven times in the first ten minutes of the game. After the eighth tie of the game the Saints used a 5-0 run to take a five point with the score 35-30 with 5:55 remaining in the half. The Saints pushed the lead to as many as eight points, but ultimately took a seven point lead into the locker room with the score 45-38 in favor of Holy Cross.
"I thought we were playing a little too amped up early on in the game, but once we settled down and started to play the tempo we wanted to play we started get some control over the lead. Trinity Christian is a quality team so it was important for us to play our game, and not let them dictate their game in the second half," said Head Coach Bob Schermerhorn.
Kader led a balanced attack for Holy Cross leading the Saints with 9 first half points. Freshman Darrell McIntyre (Indianapolis, IN), sophomore Dane Okuda (Huntington Beach, CA), and junior Michael VanderPloeg (Kalamazoo, MI) chipped in 7 points for Holy Cross.
Trinity Christian was led by the hot hand of Matt Buren who went 8-11 from the field, and led the Trolls with 16 points. BJ Wortham netted 7 points as well for the Trolls in the first half.
The Saints came out ready to play in the first five minutes of the second half as they pushed the lead to as many as 9 points, but the Trolls used a mini 4-0 run to cut the lead to five points with just over fifteen minutes remaining.
The lead remained in that range until Holy Cross went on a 6-0 run to push the lead up to thirteen points with the score 61-48 with 11:23 remaining in the game. It seemed as if Holy Cross had control of the game, but the Trolls did not back down that easily.
They used a 12-2 run over the next two minutes to close the gap to three points, and just like that it was game again. Then the Trolls got over a hump as they took a one point lead off of a three pointer by Mike Taylor with the score 69-68 with 4:22 left in the game.
Holy Cross charged back to take the lead, but then a three by Wortham put the Trolls up 72-70 with 1:26 left in the game. This is when Kader decided to conjure up his clutch gene. He hit a game tying jumper with thirty five second remaining in the game. A timeout by the Trolls, and a block by Taylor Williams (South Bend, IN) put the game into overtime with the game tied 72-72.
It was all Trinity Christian early on in the overtime scoring the first four points, and taking a 76-72 lead midway through the overtime period. The Saints clawed back to tie the game at 76-76. A missed front end of a one and one by Matt Buren allowed the Saints to have the ball tied with thirty six seconds left in the contest.
Coach Schermerhorn's plan seemed to be to hold the ball for the final shot. They did just that as Kader took a hand off from VanderPloeg and pulled up from fifteen feet to hit what was the game winner with 1.8 seconds remaining. The Trolls had one final shot after a timeout, but the pass was intercepted by Williams to seal the deal for the Saints.
"I am just so proud of my guys I don't even know what to say. They battled so hard, and the fans were just great tonight! To see how far our program has come is an absolute joy for me. This is the loudest, and most packed I have ever seen this place. I truly feel the energy helped out guys gut this one out in overtime against a great Trinity Christian team. I am just so happy for my players," said Coach Schermerhorn.
Kader led the Saints with 19 points on the evening. Williams had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. McIntyre chipped in 11 points in the win for the Saints.
Buren had a game high 23 points in the loss for the Trolls, and Wortham added 21 points as he went 4-8 from behind the three point line. Trinity Christian finishes the season in fifth place in the CCAC, and 11-20 overall.
The Saints improve their overall record to 14-16. They will travel to Cardinal Stritch this Thursday for the CCAC semi-final matchup. Cardinal Stritch is the top seeded team, and they beat Trinity International 79-66 tonight. The game time has yet to be decided.