BOYS BASKETBALL: Brother Rice pulls off upset, slips past St. Marys in OT
ORCHARD LAKE – After a fast start, playing with a lead for a majority of the first half on the road Sunday against favored Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Birmingham Brother Rice found itself trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and gasping for breath.
That’s when head coach Ed Shaffer called timeout and looked to jumpstart his Warriors to regain their first-half form.
After trimming the St. Mary’s lead down to eight by the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors forced overtime with a late push and eventually posted a thrilling 60-59 upset win to move their overall record to 6-2 and rebound from a lopsided loss in their previous outing.
Shaffer said that after the timeout late in the third quarter, he felt his team played with more energy.
“We called timeout and I told them in that timeout with their body language, we were going to lose this game,” he said. “By body language, we were kind of giving up and after that we came out and played hard again. We’re pretty athletic, we’re not that big and I don’t think people are going to be scared of us, but we have guys who are going to make plays and they just did that.”
Brother Rice got out of the gates quickly in the extra session, as an inside basket from Patrick Sparks and a triple from Drew Gallagher put the Warriors on top 58-55 with 2:40 left to play.
St. Mary’s star, Ted McCree notched back-to-back buckets, including a pull-up jumper with just 40 seconds left to play, to put the Eaglets back on top 59-58.
However, Brother Rice prevailed in the end courtesy of Delano Madison’s pair of free throws and a stingy defense that effectively denied McCree the ball on the game’s final possession.
Madison, who made his first start of the season, wanted to be a factor for his team after the Warriors suffered a disappointing loss to Warren De La Salle a few days earlier and he was, responding with eight points, five assists and four steals and rock-steady play..
“I knew coming in that this was going to be a big game,” he said. “I knew it was a big opportunity for me to step up in the Catholic League. We just took a loss to De La Salle so I just wanted to come in and make sure that my team didn’t take another loss.”
McCree finished with a game-high 32 points to lead the way for the Eaglets as they fell to 6-2.
Sparks highlighted Brother Rice’s scorebook with 16 points.
Trailing 52-42 with over four minutes left to play, Gallagher gave the Warriors the spark they had been looking for as he came away with consecutive steals, one of which he parlayed into a hoop for himself and the other into a bucket for Nick Bielke to cut the deficit to four points.
“I just came off the bench and I was trying to give us a boost and hoping to turn this game around because we needed a big change and we were down 10 already,” Gallagher said. “Then on the shot in overtime, I came off it (the screen) and I saw an opening and took it when I could. After that, I just trusted my shot.”
Following an Eaglets’ free throw pushed their lead back to five, Brother Rice junior guard Dominic Downs (14 points) came up with a quick basket for Brother Rice and then drilled a 3-pointer with just five seconds left to play to knot the game at 53-53 and force overtime.
Downs noted that after missing a chance at tying the game with a 3-pointer on a previous possession, he didn’t focus on the miss and just looked to capitalize on his next opportunity to try and tie the game up to force the extra session.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I knew they were going to run a play for me and I know I got the look that I wanted, but I just stayed with the play and stayed positive, try to turn the page and I knew that I’d probably get another shot at it and when I did, I just focused on it and hit it.”