inside the gym at North Canton Hoover High School for Akron St. Vincent
St. Mary’s. However the Irish were able to hit the big shots when
needed as they defeated Dublin Coffman 48-45 in overtime Sunday
at the Pizza Oven Classic.
The Irish (8-5) were shooting just 2-for-18 from the floor in the second half and had only one fourth quarter point as they found themselves trailing the Shamrocks in the closing seconds.
Trailing by two, the Irish sent Coffman’s Michael Green to the foul line. Green split the two free throws to give St. Vincent-St. Mary one last chance and the Irish found their savior in senior Jamar Holley. Holley hit a running three from the top of the key with one second left to tie up the game and force overtime.
“Jamar, he’s a senior and has been huge for us,” said Irish head coach Dru Joyce. “A lot of guys would shy away from taking a shot like that, but he wanted it. Once we tied it up, I felt we took their best shot and we would win it in overtime.”
In the extra session, the biggest momentum turn came from the foul line. With Coffman holding a one point lead, Shamrocks senior Zack Stoudt was called for a technical foul after being frustrated with call against him. Daylen Harrison and Demetrius Brinson each hit a pair of foul shots to take advantage of the technical foul call by putting the Irish up by three.
With as cold as the shooting was for both teams to that point, the next few possessions featured nothing but big time plays.
First Coffman’s Scott Stucky was able to tie the game back up with a three point shot, only to be quickly answered by SVSM’s Michael Hammonds hitting a three of his own. That in turn was also answered by Coffman freshman Christian Heine who was able to tie the game back up with yet another three pointer.
Joyce decided in the closing seconds of overtime to put the ball into the hands of the Senior Brinson. Brinson was able to draw a foul and with 14.1 seconds left, he connected on another pair of big foul shots to put the Irish back on top and they would hold on for the victory. In the overtime period alone, SVSM shot 7-for-9 from the foul line.
“Of all the teams we’ve had, this is the best free throw shooting team, including the ones back with LeBron (James) and Dru (Joyce),” said Coach Joyce. “Daylen is our leader, and Demetrius makes four big ones that are pressure packed shots.”
The Irish built up a big lead early as they went on an 18-3 run stretching the first and second quarters, and took a ten point lead into halftime. However, cold shooting was able to bring Coffman back into the game. The Shamrocks cut the lead to three going into the fourth quarter and finally took the lead back on a basket by Stucky with 2:05 to play in the game. That lasted until the Holley shot at the buzzer.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Joyce. “First half we controlled everything, second half they threw some different defensive looks at us. We weren’t surprised by that. What was surprising was how bad we shot.”
The win was the sixth straight for Joyce’s Irish and a big growing experience for his young team.
“Every game is a growing experience,” said Joyce. “We play three freshman and our upper classmen aren’t experienced either. These games are character builders.”
The growth his players are achieving, especially his three seniors, Holley, Brinson, and Nicholas Thomas, is something Joyce looks highly upon as they continue to prepare for the postseason. “These seniors waited their time,” said Joyce. “Sometimes if people aren’t getting time they give up and leave the program. These three stayed, they sat and now their playing. It makes me feel good to see them come through and make an impact.”