The Tigers were not supposed to win this game. It was what everyone in attendance was thinking, and has been a common theme for the varsity basketball team during this magical year.
The Academy of the New Church Lions are deep, athletic, and talented. They have three potential DI recruits: 6’6” senior forward Carnel Harley, point guard Vince Jackson, and 6’8” freshman Marcus Little. While none have definite offers, all three have interest. The Lions are an intimidating team, to put it lightly. When they strolled into the gym, there was no mistaking the definite stares from the home crowd. This team had confidence. However, the Tigers, as they have done all season, stared this team in the face and were not intimidated in the slightest.
In the first half, seniors Jamil Pines-Elliot and Ray Leon both got into foul trouble, and had to be taken out of the game. Senior Andrew Aldridge had three big buckets to keep the scrappy Tigers in the game, but things were still looking bleak. However, this allowed for freshman Isaac Myran and sophomore Thomas Primosch (AKA Smoove) to step into the spotlight in one of the biggest games of the season. They delivered.
Myran played lockdown defense on Jackson, not allowing him to even touch the ball for most of the second quarter. His constant motor and toughness allowed the Tigers to keep it close despite not having two of the team’s best players. Smoove knocked down a big jumper as well.
In the second half, Leon was back, but Jamil was not. He picked up an early foul in the third quarter, and Myran stumbled back onto the court. It was his job again to defend Jackson, and defend he did.
In the third quarter, things were looking bleak again. At the worst point in the third quarter, the Tigers trailed by seventeen. But this team does not know how to quit. Shots began to fall, the Lions’ shots began to miss, and Leon came up with some big rebounds down the stretch. The gap began to close. The lead was cut to seven at the start of the fourth quarter, and the Tigers never looked back.
Down two, a perfect play call by coach Shawn Werdt gave Ray the ball and a driving lane. He drove left, elevated, finished a tough layup and got fouled. He made the foul shot, and the tigers lead by one. However, the lead was short-lived. Senior Jalil Pines-Elliot, who had played excellent defense the entire game, fouled Vince Jackson to put him on the line, where he made both shots. The tigers were down once more, with 5.2 seconds remaining. They inbounded the ball to Ray, where he was immediately fouled by Carnel Harley. He made the foul shots to put the Tigers up by one. But there were still 4.3 seconds left, enough time to get a good shot off. The ball was inbounded to Vince Jackson where he was swarmed by twins Jamil and Jalil Pines-Elliot, he coughed up the ball, and the Tigers won another.