Before the game against the College of Wooster’s Fighting Scots, the men’s team honored Chris Sloneker, ’18, Chad Roy, ’18 and Logan Boyd, ’18 for their performances over the last four years on Senior Night. Special acknowledgements were made, including Roy’s surpassing of 1,000 points on Feb. 7. The game is being called an instant classic, after the hard-fought win by the Tigers, resulting in a 78-77 win in overtime.
Now, imagine that there is one second left in the game; the tension is high because the Tigers are down by three. James Johnson, ’21, grabs the defensive rebound from a failed free throw by Wooster, passes to Jacob Bertemes, ’20, who turns around and sinks a 3-point shot from behind the line as the buzzer sounds. The crowd goes wild.
That is only a peek of what occurred Saturday night when the men’s basketball team went up against the Fighting Scots.
The game started off rough for the Tigers, with Wooster scoring the first two baskets, putting them ahead by four. Mitchell Balser, ’19, went up for a shot and scored, putting the Fighting Scots ahead by one. But the fight for the lead did not end there.
It was anyone’s game as each team took turns sinking shots. A layup from Roy here, two frees from Wooster there, another 3-pointer from Balser and a three from Wooster. This went on for six minutes, as it was then that the Fighting Scots started pulling ahead.
There were points from Balser, Roy and Johnson, but they just weren’t enough. At the half, the Tigers trailed 33-24.
Coming out of the locker room, it took one minute and 30 seconds for someone to score. But, Jordan Pumroy, ’20, was up to the task, and put up three points for the Tigers which was followed by a jumper from Balser. The Tigers were trying to bridge the gap and they succeeded with layups and a jumper from Johnson and Bertemes, tying it up 33-33.
The Fighting Scots fought back, trying to regain their lead. Bertemes stole the ball form Wooster and drove it down the court making a layup, but, Wooster continued to regain their lead. Sloneker returned to the floor and drove in a layup, leaving the Fighting Scots ahead by only three points.
The two teams went back to switching off who scored; Wooster, Sloneker, Wooster, Pumroy then Wooster again. That’s where the pattern ended, because the Fighting Scots began to pull away, again.
With three minutes and 47 seconds left in the game, the Fighting Scots were ahead by 11. But, Landon Martin, ’21, swooped in to fix that with his 3-pointer. Wooster continued to push the Tigers harder and farther from a win. For every point that the Tigers scored, Wooster would turn around and do the same. Free throws were taken by Roy, Bertemes, Pumroy and Johnson, each trying hard to tie up the game, but that seemed out of reach and time was getting down to the wire. The Tigers were pushing hard and with Wooster ahead, 67-64, with one second left, Bertemes sank the magic 3-pointer that tied the game up and pushed the game into overtime.
Overtime is five more minutes of basketball, and the Tigers were not going to let these five minutes go to waste.
Bertemes, who was on fire the second half, came out and made a layup then a free throw, putting the Tigers ahead. But, overtime was not easy sailing because the Fighting Scots were not giving up the fight. Wooster made two shots, allowing them to surpass the Tigers. Now, there was a foul putting Roy at the line, where he made two and was followed up by another three from Bertemes.
There were more points from Wooster, which was promptly followed by a layup by Bertemes, tying the game with 0.3 seconds left in overtime. On his layup, Bertemes was fouled and given one foul shot to give the Tigers the lead.
Bertemes made the free throw and the buzzer sounded. The Tigers had captured the victory 78-77 and clenched the title of 2018 NCAC Champions.
Highlights of the night were Bertemes’ ability to perform under pressure, coming out as the lead scorer of the night with 26 points. All of those points were scored in the second half and overtime. Leading in rebounds for the night was Johnson with eight and Roy lead in assists with three. The field goal percentage of the night was 42.4 and the Tigers scored 34 points in the paint with two fast break points.
The Men’s Basketball team will be back in action on Tuesday Feb. 20, against Oberlin College, in the opening round of the 2018 NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament at 8 p.m. in Pam Evans Smith Arena.