13
Feb 2015

The return of Slam Dunk to the Beach is officially in the books, as the three-day tournament came to a close late Monday night. The final session certainly did not lack drama, as a pair of games were decided in the final seconds, including one that ended on a buzzer-beater in double-overtime. That heart-stopping victory belonged to nationally-ranked Roselle Catholic (NJ), which beat Gonzaga College (DC), 85-83. In game two, St. Vincent-St. Mary rallied back to sneak past Sunrise Christian Academy (KS), 52-50. The tournament wrapped up with Mount St. Joseph toppling host Cape Henlopen 66-47.

All anyone could talk about at the end of the evening was Taahir Pretlow’s game-winning layup just before time ran out in the second overtime to keep No. 5 Roselle Catholic undefeated on the season. It came with the game tied at 83, and left the patrons in Lewes, DE screaming in delirium.

Gonzaga actually started the play with the ball and a chance to win, but Bryant Crawford’s pass was intercepted by Ganlandou Cisse with three ticks left on the clock. He lobbed the ball forward to a streaking Pretlow, who took it all the way to the rim. The senior released his layup with just over a second on the clock, and as if that was not dramatic enough, the ball toilet-bowled around the rim before finally falling through the cylinder.

“I’m just so proud of my guys,” said Roselle Catholic head coach Dave Boff. “We hedged the ball screen hard on the last play. We stayed in it. We rotated down on the backside, and when the kid tried to throw the skip-out pass, we were right there for the interception. We threw a nice lead pass and [Pretlow] went down and finished it. But we were in the right spot on the last possession. Whereas, late in the fourth quarter and overtime we weren’t in the right spots almost ever.”

Boff was not kidding, as almost nothing else went right down the stretch for his team.

Roselle Catholic raced out to a 25-4 lead, and although Gonzaga crept to within 10 at one point in the second quarter, the Lions took a 43-28 edge into the locker room at halftime. Then foul trouble and the talented Crawford began to chip away at Roselle Catholic’s resolve.

Isaiah Briscoe, the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2015, and Chris Silva, the South Carolina commit both fouled out in the fourth quarter. The duo combined to account for 28 points, 11 rebounds, six blocked shots and five assists.

Meanwhile, Crawford, who sat for much of the first half with foul trouble of his own, caught fire. The Wake Forest commit had just two points entering the fourth period, but ended the evening with 18. He was not alone in his offensive heroics, as Chris Lykes added 22 points on the night and Sam Miller notched a game-high 24.

The Dayton-commit saved his biggest shot for the last one of regulation. Gonzaga cut the deficit all the way down to three and were inbounding the ball in the frontcourt with three seconds left. They lobbed it to Miller on the right wing, and he drained the shot that sent the game to OT.

“You know, that’s a play we run all the time,” Miller said. “We’re supposed to just dive to the basket, and the counter play is just I stay back and shoot the three, so I’ve hit a lot of those over the years, and that was just a big one. It was crazy. I couldn’t even see the hoop when I shot it, and it was, just the swish sounded so sweet.”

In overtime Roselle Catholic again raced out to an early edge. Matt Bullock scored six of his 22 points to put the Lions up 76-70. Again Gonzaga roared back, tying the game on Miller’s free throw with 26 ticks left on the clock.

In the second overtime Gonzaga took its first lead of the night with 45 seconds remaining on Myles Dread’s layup. Kameron David came down and hit two clutch foul shots to pull even with 24 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Roselle Catholic’s last-second theatrics.

“Yeah, I mean a lot of teams that I’ve coached, including probably my group last year, would’ve folded in this game a couple of times,” Boff said. “They break your back with the buzzer-beating three, and then we have a [six]–point lead in the first overtime late, and we lose that. And then we have a lead late in the second overtime again, and they tie it up and take the lead even. A lot of groups that I’ve coached would have folded, but this is a different group right now. Just so much more heart, so much more intensity, and so much more of a desire to win.”

It was a tough act to follow, but St. Vincent-St. Mary did its very best. The Fighting Irish held Dainan Swoope, Sunrise Christian’s leading-scorer, without a point, as they rallied back from a six-point second-half deficit.

Sunrise Christian head coach Kyle Lindsted had nothing but nice things to say about the Fighting Irish’s defensive effort afterward.

“They did a good job of keeping Swoope away from the ball,” Lindsted said. “He had no points, and he’s been our leading scorer all year, so you know, hats off to them. They worked hard. They had a fresh guy on him all the time. They limited his touches, you know, they just worked their tail off on him, and honestly we just didn’t do a very good job of getting him the ball in transition.”

St. Vincent-St. Mary head coach Dru Joyce immediately recognized how key Swoope was to Sunrise’s attack when he watched the Buffaloes play, and he decided to put his best defender on the case.

“I saw that most of the sets that they run were for him coming off staggers, coming off screens. I told Jayvon Graves, that’s who you’re going to guard today. You’ve got to make it your best effort. It was his birthday today and I think it was a great birthday gift the way he played, and held him in check.”

The birthday boy was aided by Josh Williams, who turned in his second straight strong game. Williams scored a game-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field.

“Josh is our leader,” Joyce said. “He’s a great kid on and off the court, high character, does everything we ask him to. At the end of the game I took him out and I could see he needed a rest. But a lot of times guys want to fight you. He said, ‘no coach, I know I needed it.’ But that’s the kind of kid he is. You just love coaching those kinds of kids that appreciate what you are trying to do Just whatever I want done, he makes sure it happens with the guys. It has made my job much easier.”

The finale saw a young Cape team hang with a Maryland power for as long as they could, before Mount St. Joseph finally pulled away late.

The Gaels placed three players in double figures, led by Randy Miller’s 12 points and six boards. Jalen Smith blocked five shots to key the winning defensive effort that also included 21 turnovers forced and a 29 percent shooting effort from Cape Henlopen.

“Our defense was pretty good tonight,” said Mount St. Joseph head coach Pat Clatchey. “Overall this was not our sharpest or most cerebral game, but we executed for the most part on that end of the floor. Our young kid [Smith] blocked a bunch of shots, which certainly made life a whole lot easier.”

Cape Henlopen got 12 points from Ian Robertson and five steals from Drew Mulcahy.

THEY SAID IT:

Gonzaga Forward Sam Miller 

“Yeah it was a crazy game. Definitely one of the best game experiences of my high school career, so definitely good to have it in my senior year.

“You know, that’s a play we run all the time. We’re supposed to just dive to the basket, and the counter play is just I stay back and shoot the three, so I’ve hit a lot of those over the years, and that was just a big one. It was crazy. I couldn’t even see the hoop when I shot it, and it was, just the swish sounded so sweet.”

“We were looking to go to the high screen and roll, like it had been working all game, and just, you know, got a little careless with the ball, looking to get a basket, so yeah. It was just hard to see it go like that.”

“I am really proud of my teammates, the way they stepped up. You know we definitely came out flat, and that was just really cool to see them all answer the call because they were not playing good at the start, and they definitely, they came up big today.”

Roselle Catholic Head Coach Dave Boff 

” I mean I am just so proud of the guys because it shows that we’re more than a couple of guys. You know we’re a full team, one-through-14. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I think we played like 14 or 15 straight minutes without Chris [Silva] and Isiah [Briscoe}, and then about 10 straight minutes without Pierre [Sarr], so for us to continue to compete against a team at that level and then still come out on top, it says so much about all our guys.”

“Yeah, I mean a lot of teams that I’ve coached, including probably my group last year, would’ve folded in this game a couple of times. They break your back with the buzzer-beating three, and then we have a four-point lead in the first overtime late, and we lose that, and then we have a lead late in the second overtime again, and they tie it up and take the lead even. A lot of groups that I’ve coached would have folded, but this is a different group right now. Just so much more heart, so much more intensity, and so much more of a desire to win.”

“We got a little sloppy with the basketball. We lost focus on the defensive end, and Gonzaga is a very good basketball team. You know, when we were up 17, I said, ‘Iknow we’re not winning this game by 17 against a team of that caliber.’ They’ve got too much pride on their bench. They’ve won a ton of games. I knew they that they were going to come back and hit us. I didn’t think that it’d get back to where it got to, but I knew that they were going to throw a couple of punches at us and we were going to have to

handle it. Unfortunately we didn’t handle it as well as I would have liked, but again, that we were able to deal with it and still win shows a lot.”

“The amazing thing about that last play is that everything we did right on that play is exactly all the things we did wrong when we lost the lead. We hedged the ball screen hard on the last play. We stayed in it. We rotated down on the backside, and when the kid tried to throw the skip-out pass, we were right there for the interception. We threw a nice lead pass and [Pretlow] went down and finished it. But we were in the right spot on the last possession. Whereas, late in the fourth quarter and overtime we weren’t in the right spots almost ever.”

Sunrise Head Coach Kyle Lindsted 

“I think the three games in three days plus the travel caught up to us, and we didn’t have as much as energy as we’ve had in past nights. But you know what, that’s one thing we can control. Unfortunately, we didn’t control it.”

“They did a good job of keeping Swoope away from the ball. He had no points, and he’s been our leading scorer all year, so you know, hats off to them. They worked hard. They had a fresh guy on him all the time. They limited his touches, you know, they just worked their tail off on him, and honestly we just didn’t do a very good job of getting him the ball in transition.”

St. Vincent-St. Mary Head Coach Dru Joyce 

“In the fourth quarter all I wanted to do was keep it close. If I could keep it close, I felt like anything could happen, you know, and you know, it went our way. We had to correct one thing that they were doing to us. They were hurting us with some inside screening action, where you know, we were getting caught up as they were rubbing off each other, and then we would go to help off the one big guy and they would pass it to the other one. Well, I was telling my perimeter guys, hey you got to sink to the level of the ball. That’s the principle. That’s what we teach, so once we started to get those guys sinking we were set.”

“Josh is our leader. He’s a great kid on and off the court, high character, does everything we ask him to. At the end of the game I took him out and I could see he needed a rest. But a lot of times guys want to fight you. He said, ‘no coach, I know I needed it.’ But that’s the kind of kid he is. You just love coaching those kind of kids, that appreciate what you are trying to do, and just whatever I want done he makes sure it happens with the guys. It has made my job much easier.”

“I saw that most of the sets that they run were for [Swoopes] coming off staggers, coming off screens. I told Jayvon Graves, that’s who you’re going to guard today. You’ve got to make it your best effort. It was his birthday today and I think it was a great birthday gift the way he played, and held him in check.”

Mount St. Joseph Head Coach Pat Clatchey 

“Our defense was pretty good tonight. Overall this was not our sharpest or most cerebral game, but we executed for the most part on that end of the floor. Our young kid [Jalen Smith] blocked a bunch of shots, which certainly made life a whole lot easier.”

“Our experience here was a positive one. The [Slam Dunk to the Beach] treated us great and we were really happy we came. It’s a good tournament and I’m certainly happy it’s back.”

Cape Henlopen Head Coach Stephen Re 

” I tell you what, I thought we played really well tonight. I mean we really did. We were out-atheleted at every position. I think we had it down to six in the second half, and turned the ball over. But we competed and I think maybe this young team showed some signs of [turning the corner] tonight.”

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