NEW HAVEN – Who needs Brian Gremaux?
With Concordia Lutheran's top forward in street clothes with an ankle sprain, 6-foot-3 senior Brandon Webb stepped up admirably, banking home a 12-foot jumper off of a blocked shot at the buzzer as the Cadets shocked host New Haven, 64-63.
The winning points gave Concordia its first lead since 20-18 midway through the second quarter.
Webb's heroics capped a bizarre final 10 seconds of the game. A pair of free throws by D.J. McCall cut the New Haven advantage to one with nine seconds remaining. As the Bulldogs brought the ball up the court, Monte Stevenson was fouled with 6.3 ticks left. New Haven took exception to the hard foul and a technical foul was called on the Bulldogs' bench.
Not only did the technical give Concordia Lutheran a pair of free throws to offset New Haven's twin attempts, it also gave the Cadets the ball.
Both teams converted their free throws, giving Concordia possession with six seconds left in regulation. The Cadets worked to isolate McCall inside, who got into the lane, turned and threw up a shot that was rejected by New Haven center Steve McElvene. The ball bounced right out to Webb, who grabbed it cleanly and launched the winning basket.
“The ball bounced right to me,” Webb said. “I stepped up, shot it and it went in.”
The winning basket completed a comeback that saw Concordia trail by as many as 13 late in the third quarter. But slowly but surely the Cadets (16-3) trimmed the lead by getting defensive stops and hitting big shots.
Some of those big shots by Concordia came from the outside, an area of its game that has been a struggle at times this season. The Cadets were 2-of-14 at one point from three-point range, but hit four in the fourth quarter to help climb back into contention.
“I thought it was a slow grind to get back in it,” Concordia coach Josh Eggold said. “But I thought it was our defense and how we got to some loose balls in the third quarter and the fourth quarter that really kept us in the game.”
The Cadets, as the case with most teams this season, had trouble with McElvene inside. Despite sitting out the entire first quarter, McElvene finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds on the night. His block of McCall in the final seconds was his fourth of the game, and at times he got the ball in the paint seemingly at will without Gremaux inside to challenge him.
“Steve is different, he is a game changer,” Eggold said. “You cannot prepare for him, he is just so dominant inside.”
The loss ends the Bulldogs' win streak at 11 and is the fifth consecutive victory for the Cadets after dropping three of four around the turn of the new year.
McCall finished with a double-double, notching 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Thursday was a considerable confidence boost for Concordia, especially with Gremaux sidelined.
“We are already a confident team with Brian, but we are even more confident now,” Webb said.
Gremaux said his ankle sprain will keep him out of tonight's home game against Heritage. He expects to play in the season finale next Friday night against Homestead and be fully prepared for sectional play.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN 64, NEW HAVEN 63
Concordia 12 11 12 29 - 64
New Haven 9 17 14 23 - 63
Concordia: McCall 21, Harris 5, Gross 6, Rogers 14, Starks 12, Webb 6.
New Haven: Stevenson 8, Hogue 6, Ray 2, Beachem 17, Curry 10, Bolinger 2, McElvene 18.