Spartans Defuse Rockets in Epic Fashion

Posted on: February 12, 2020

If you were there, then you know… If you weren’t, there is no way to do it justice.  The gym was filled to capacity and the Klinger Krazies were ready have their own battle with a McNick student section that showed up to make some noise.  Trailing late in the game, the Turpin Spartans engineered a comeback for the ages and defeated the McNicholas Rockets 60-57.  They were led by Dom Cantrella, Theisen Lee and Jackson Holt, who contributed 15, 15 and 14 points, respectively.  The win improves the Spartans’ overall record to 16-2 (ECC 10-1.)   

Theisen Lee got the party started by putting up the first four points for the home team.  By the time Holt and Cantrella followed with two free throws each, the Spartans trailed 9-8.  From there, the Rockets scored 9 straight, extending their lead to ten, which prompted a time out by Turpin.  The Spartans went on a 7-3 run to close the quarter, including baskets by Trey Shetler, Owen Spencer and a much needed “and-one” from Holt at the :12 mark, after he alertly intercepted a pass.  At the end of the quarter, the Rockets lead was cut to six, 21-15.

After a bucket by the Rockets to open the quarter, Holt found Lee in the corner and he connected on a three-pointer.  Later, Lee dished to Spencer down low, who beat the double team for the layup.  Cantrella then found Holt open on the wing for a three-ball that took a friendly bounce off the rim and into the net.  After a layup that would not fall for the Spartans, Lee was there to clean up the board and deposit the ball to cut the Rockets’ lead to three at 28-25.  McNick would score the next four before calling a time out at 3:37.  Turpin then went on a 9-3 run to close the half, which included a three-pointer by Harry Tyszkiewicz, and a smooth drive to the basket by Holt, thanks to a steal and assist from Ethan Zinn.  The half ended when Josh Bell got an offensive rebound and put the ball back up for a basket at the buzzer.  Initially the refs waved the shot off, but “after further review,” the Spartans were awarded the points, which caused some heated discussion between the officials and the Rockets’ head coach.  (Replay shows that the refs ultimately made the right call.)  At half the Spartans trailed by the slimmest of margins, 35-34.  The buzzer-beater before half was certainly a hint of things to come…

Theisen Lee caught fire to open the half pouring in the first six points for the home team and the Rockets wanted to talk it over as the Spartans led 40-38.  With 3:09 left in the quarter, Lee was attempting to defend his man when he stepped on his opponent’s foot, badly turning his ankle.  The home crowd held their breath as he was helped off the floor.  Theisen would not return and finished with five rebounds and 15 points in just two and a half quarters of play.  Turpin would need to find an offensive boost elsewhere.  Trey Shetler found Cantrella alone in the corner and he drained a three to tie the game at 43.  On a drive to the hole, Spencer then dished Shetler under the basket for a reverse layup to tie it up at 45.  The Rockets would find their next three points at the charity stripe, as they took a 48-45 lead.  With :06 left on the clock, Cantrella took the ball the length of the floor and was fouled with one second remaining.  He was able to rattle in both free throws to keep it close at 48-47, going into the final quarter. 

After the Rockets notched a point at the free-throw line, Turpin responded with a nice in-bound pass from Zinn to Cantrella under the basket for a layup to knot it up at 49.  McNick then put together a 6-0 run and led 55-49 with 3:22 to go.  After missing the front end of a one and one, Cantrella hustles back on defense to force a jump ball, giving it back to Turpin with 2:19 left.  After a time out the Spartans were setting up their offense when Holt fired a pass to Cantrella who was left alone in the corner and he made the Rockets pay by sinking a three.  When McNick failed to convert the front end of a one and one, Spencer passed to Tyszkiewicz on the wing and he dropped in another three to tie the game at 55 at the 1:37 mark.  CLUTCH!  At that point, the house was rocking and you could certainly feel the momentum shift toward the home team.

McNick burned some clock before they drove down the lane and deposited a floater with :38 on the clock.  After a Turpin timeout, Holt took things into his own hands when he drove through the heart of the defense and pulled up for a jumper in the lane that found nothing but net.  CLUTCH!  All tied up, 57-57 with fourteen seconds left.  McNick took the ball down the floor and tried to drive the baseline but thanks to solid defense by Owen Spencer, got caught under the basket with nowhere to go and the player threw the ball off the backside of the backboard.  Turpin would have 2.9 seconds to work with and they called a timeout to put together a plan…

There was definitely enough time to push the ball up the floor for a mid-court shot, which was likely their strategy.  However, the best laid plans often go awry.  Cantrella in-bounded the ball to Shetler along the baseline.  After a quick look elsewhere, Shetler passed back to Cantrella, who took one dribble and heaved it from around the opposite foul line.  As the buzzer sounded in mid-flight, it looked like it might have a chance…  The ball smacked the backboard and then the net shifted forward as the ball forced its way through to the bottom!  The Klinger Krazies immediately stormed the floor and Cantrella, who was standing with a hand in the air, disappeared under a pile of players and fans… 

Statistically, the two squads mirrored each other, as they each shot over 50% from the field and around 45% from three-point land.  Although the Spartans trailed after each of the first three quarters, they outscored the Rockets 13-9 in the fourth.  The difference came down to the points that Turpin squeezed out at the end of each quarter.  This was certainly the opposite of the beat-down Turpin received last year on McNick’s home floor.  The game will go down as one of the all-time highlights of the Turpin Spartans basketball program.    


Notable Performances:

Scoring:  Cantrella, Lee – 15; Holt – 14; Tyszkiewicz – 6

Assists:  Cantrella – 4; Spencer, Holt – 3

Rebounds:  Spencer, Lee – 5

Blocks:  Spencer - 3