BA stages comeback to win state basketball title
Garland nailed a three to give the Eagles a 51-50 lead with 2:38 remaining in the game, and a layup by freshman Cam Johnson and four free throws from junior Parker Suedekum closed out BA's scoring.
"Just to have the crowd behind us the whole game, no matter how much we were down, really helped us come back," Johnson said. "It helped us stay in the game, especially when we got momentum going."
In the first half, the Eagles (29-2) played like a team that was inexperienced and outmatched. They shot 38.1 percent from the field, committed eight turnovers and didn't have a single player score more than two points.
However, in the second half, the squad that started two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior played like a team loaded with veterans, as it shot 54.2% and turned the ball over only four times.
"I think throughout the game, we came more together," said sophomore guard Jeremiah Oatsvall.
"First half, we played very selfish and it didn't get us anywhere. At halftime, Coach [Hubie Smith] said if we want to turn this thing around, we have to start playing as a team and playing as brothers. Great things happen when you listen to your coach and play as a team."
While underclassmen accounted for over 69% of the team's minutes, it was senior Jordan James who ignited the team's comeback.
James hit an and-one layup with 4:42 left in the third quarter to cut Christian Brothers' lead down to 36-22. He added four more points over the next few minutes to help BA go on a 13-4 run.
"We all got a mentality that we could come back in the game if we took it one step at a time and one stop at a time," Oatsvall said.
Christian Brothers (29-1) turned the ball over seven times during BA's third-quarter surge.
Oatsvall said his team's full-court press was a major factor in forcing those errors.
"We knew that depth would be an issue for them, because they play seven people at the most," he stated. "So, we said if we can speed them up and get them tired, they can make some mental mistakes."
BA scored 20 points on 12 turnovers in the second half.
"Our kids just played with unbelievable effort," said BA head coach Hubie Smith.
"That team (Christian Brothers) was 29-0 and experienced and used to winning close games. For us to come back and win, it's just unbelievable."
Oatsvall, who was later named the tournament's most valuable player, finished with a game-high 14 points and three steals. Garland added 12 points, Jordan had nine and Johnson scored eight.
Shunterio Alexander and William Douglas posted 13 points apiece for Christian Brothers.
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.