Crusaders slide by Central Lee in triple overtime

Jason Thurman hits buzzer beater 3-ball to force triple OT

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

DONNELLSON – Holy Trinity Catholic’s boys basketball team has seen it’s share of tight game disappointments this year.

The Crusaders (4-6) lost the season-opener to Danville in overtime – lost to Notre Dame by one point with the ball at the end – and lost by two to Cardinal in overtime earlier this week. Those go the other way and the Crusaders are over .500.

But a Friday night early start at Central Lee may have been what the Crusaders needed to get back on track. Shooting 17 of 20 from the free throw line from the fourth quarter on… and a buzzer beater 3-ball at the end of double overtime to force a third extra period, didn’t hurt as the Crusaders escaped with a 78-72 triple overtime win.

“Super proud of the guys more than anything. What I told them in the locker room that what I was most impressed with was the bench engagement,” Hellige said.

“Our bench was totally in the game. Even the kids not in the game were in the game. Just a huge team win for us.”

HTC’s Vasin Thurman (35) tries to score inside in the 2nd quarter over Central Lee’s David Vance (50). The Crusaders would down the Hawks 78-72 in triple overtime Friday night at Central Lee. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

The proverbial pendulum swung a wide arc Friday with both teams holding leads as high as seven points.

The Crusaders ran out to a quick 8-0 lead, but Central Lee came firing back with some three pointers to take a 19-16 lead in the second quarter when Evan Pohren converted for the Hawks.

Central Lee would stretch the lead to 31-24 on a bucket by senior TJ Stutes, but HTC’s Vasin Thurman and Chandler Rung would score five unanswered in the final 41 seconds to make to 29-31 at the half.

HTC would take the lead in the early going of the third period when senior Matt Hellige rebounded a missed Vasin Thurman shot inside and put it back for a 35-34 Crusaders advantage. Central Lee would go on an 8-3 run as HTC went 1-for-7 from the field the rest of the quarter and trailed 42-38 at the end of three.

With 5:05 left in regulation Rung hit a 3 from the left wing and then was fouled on the next trip down from 3-point range. The senior calmly sank all three with the Central Lee student section giving him the business to give the Crusaders a 47-43 lead with just over four minutes left in the 4th.

Central Lee would cut the lead to one when Bronson Sargent was fouled on a bucket and completed the 3-point play. Hellige would score on HTC’s next possession for a 51-48 lead with 1:53 left. But Stutes would hit another of the 20 combined 3-pointers on the night in the next possession to knot the game at 51.

Neither team would score again in the final period. The Crusaders’ Quentin Schneider missed the front end of a bonus with :09 left. Central Lee got the rebound and called time out. Out of the break, Sargeant took the inbound pass with loose HTC pressure and fired up a 3-pointer that went off right at the buzzer.

The first OT session was controlled by the Hawks. HTC had one lead at 54-52 on a Blake Crabtree 3-ball, but Logan Kramer, who hadn’t played since the season-opener countered with a 3-pointer at the other end.

With less than a minute left in OT, HTC trailed 58-59 after a Vasin Thurman bucket. HTC fouled Derek Denning, but the senior missed the back-end of the bonus for a 60-58 lead before Vasin Thurman scored inside with :15 left to knot it at 60. Central Lee worked the perimeter a little long and had to force up a shot that went wide right.

HTC trailed again through most of the second OT session but another three pointer from Rung cut the lead to 67-66 with about 10 seconds left. The Crusaders again fouled Denning on the inbound to stop the clock and the Hawk hit both free throws for a 69-66 lead.

Central Lee called time out to set up the defense and came out in a 2-2-1 zone press and tried to trap Crabtree on the inbounds. The senior slipped through the trap and found a wide open Jason Thurman hanging out in the right corner. With 3 ticks left, Thurman’s shot hit the back of the iron, bounced straight up, the buzzer sounded and the ball dropped through to force a 3rd OT.

“That last play we just wanted to get guys spaced out, and their press kind of got some of their guys away from the arc,” Hellige said.

Thurman said the plan was to try and get the Hawks to move forward on the ball and free up some space behind.

“We wanted Quentin bringing the ball up the court and engage them and I just sat in the corner and they left me there,” Thurman said.

“I knew when I saw it go up in the air off the rim I knew it was going in.”

Hellige said Thurman was hot in practice during the week and was fine with him having the ball in that situation.

HTC wouldn’t score a bucket in the third period, but would go 9-of-10 from the free throw line and would hold Central Lee also to just free throws. With the ball game in the balance the Hawks went 3-of-7 from the line while HTC converted 9-10.

Jason Thurman would connect on four straight free throws in the final seconds to put the game out of reach 78-72.

“We were a little flat over Christmas, but they’ve really picked up the intensity in practice. We felt like we should’ve got the win Tuesday and that slipped away from us so this is a nice win,” Hellige said.

Vasin Thurman led the Crusaders with 22 points on the night. Rung had 16 and Hellige and Crabtree each had 14 points. Jason Thurman finished with eight points and Schneider had four.

For Central Lee (1-8), Stutes, Sargent and Kramer each had 16, Denning scored 13, Dylan Stuecker had nine and Pohren finished with two.

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