Heading into Friday's matchup with Northrop, it was obvious that for Concordia Lutheran to have a chance at the win, it would have to slow the game down and force the Bruins to play a half-court game.
Oops, scratch that.
The Cadets ran with Northrop up and down the floor for four quarters and got defensive stops when it mattered in a 59-58 victory on Friday night.
It was Concordia Lutheran's fourth straight victory and while it did not lead to an SAC championship due to North Side's win over Bishop Dwenger, it did give the Cadets a shot of momentum heading into the final weeks of the regular season.
“We had a 50-50 chance of winning the SAC if we won,” junior D.J. McCall said. “We didn't, but we feel really good winning this game with the atmosphere and all the fans here.”
The game came down to the final seconds. After a pair of missed free throws by Concordia Lutheran, Northrop had 4.5 seconds left to go the length of the court. After a timeout, Bryson Scott took the inbounds pass and dribbled close to half court, where he passed the ball to brother Brenton in the corner. But the pass was tough to handle and as Brenton tried to gather in the pass and toss up a shot, the ball went out of bounds.
“We wanted to make sure both Scott boys when they caught (the pass) they were coming back to the basketball,” Concordia coach Josh Eggold said. “We did not want either of them to get a clean catch and shoot because both those guys can shoot it anywhere on the court.”
The Bruins scored just two points over the final 1:49 of the game.
Northrop had to work for every basket it got all night, with Concordia Lutheran quickly getting back into a zone defense after every possession. The Bruins (15-4, 5-2 SAC) had a tough time getting to the basket, particularly in the first half. Things loosened up after halftime a bit, but the outside shooting never got on track, with Northrop finishing 0-for-15 from 3-point range.
“We were comfortable with running the floor,” McCall said. “We know that against Northrop if you run too much, you can get out of control and that helps them, so we had to be a little careful at times.”
McCall finished with a double-double for the Cadets (15-3, 5-2 SAC), scoring 15 points and adding 11 rebounds. He also was huge late in the game when he stepped into the point guard role. Senior Ryan Gross picked up a technical foul in the third quarter and did not see the floor the rest of the game. McCall moved to the point and was exceptional in an unfamiliar spot, even more so with the game on the line in the final seconds.
“It was interesting in that we didn't have our normal personnel in,” Eggold said about the final minute. “D.J. really stepped up as the 1 … that's extreme pressure and he did well.”
Northrop was led by Bryson Scott's 25 points, which ties him for second all-time in scoring in Fort Wayne with James Hardy with 1,823 points.
DeShaun Thomas is No. 1 in the city and third in the state with 3,018 points. Damon Bailey is No. 1 with 3,134 points.
The Bruins' SAC championship drought continues, with the program still without a title since winning five straight from 1984-1988.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN 59, NORTHROP 58
Concordia 15 8 17 19-59
Northrop 13 8 21 16-58
Concordia: McCall 15, Harris 8, Rogers 7, Starks 17, Webb 2, Gremaux 10.
Northrop: Brenton Scott 16, Womack 10, Thomas 2, Richmond 2, Claypool 3, Bryson Scott 25.