Princeton capped a frenetic finish Saturday in the Division I regional final at the Cintas Center with a 64-60 win over Cincinnati LaSalle. The victory punches the Vikings first ticket to the state tournament since 1972. It’s just the school’s second state appearance ever.
For much of the Division I boys
Cincinnati Princeton shooting guard Jordan Sibert, a 6-4 junior who is already committed to , entered the Cintas Center as the star attraction, but Cincinnati LaSalle point guard Jordon Crawford turned in a standout third quarter and had his team in position for victory and a trip to the state .
Sibert came through on both ends of throughout the final eight minutes with must-have free , important defensive rebounds and clutch baskets including a huge three in the midst of a frantic finish that tied the score at 60 with 50 seconds to play.
“If you’ve got a big-time player you’ve got to put him into a spot where he can make a big-time play,”
Andrews was referring to the dire situation the Vikings faced when they trailed 60-55 and Sibert had the ball poked away and go off his leg.
Williams, a smooth, 6-3
Crawford tried to respond but missed a three of his own, and Horne put the Vikings ahead by laying in a feed from Williams with 31 seconds to play. Once again, Crawford eyed a three but missed and Sibert skied for the board and was fouled with 10.8 seconds remaining.
He swished both ends of a one-and-one to ice the biggest victory of his life.
“I just did what I thought was necessary for us to win,” he said.
“It was pretty hard. It was a hard-fought battle, but we were able to come out with the victory. We’re a great team. We came out and played together and that’s how we came out with a victory.”
“That comes from my grandma,” he said. “She passed away recently. When she passed, I told her that everything I do is for her now. I can’t get scared of nobody. I’m doing it for her.”
Sibert seemed to relish his chances to perform with the game on the line, especially when he attempted crucial free throws. After splashing his final two, he emphatically said ‘I told you’ while looking over at his older brother, Logan.
“I was missing free throws and he told me in practice, ‘We’re going to have to work on that,’ ” Sibert said. “I remember I told him next game I’m making all of them. After I made them I told him, ‘I don’t miss free throws any more.’ ”
Sibert had missed several free throws in the tournament including his effort in the Vikings’ regional semifinal win over Cincinnati Aiken on Wednesday.
“He struggled at the free-throw line the other day, and thankfully the pressure and the necessity to make the free throws wasn’t there,” Andrews said. “But a big-time player has got to make big-time shots under a lot of pressure. They did a good job of executing their game plan and taking the ball out of his hands at times, but at the end of the day we have enough good players to get it done and they proved it.”
Against the Lancers, Sibert was 9 for 9 on the stripe and 4 of 8 from the field. In his 29 minutes he added to his 18 points with eight rebounds, two assists and three steals. For the season, he is averaging 15.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 51 percent from the floor including 39 percent from behind the arc.
None of that matters now, though, as
The lead seesawed in the fourth quarter and momentum shifted swiftly when Crawford nailed a three to break a 55-all tie and moments later hit a pair of free throws to up the LaSalle lead to 60-55 with 1:43 to play. Power forward Danny McElroy, who added 12 points, was holding sway inside and Crawford was making plays on the perimeter.
“He’s a great player and he made great shots, him and Danny,” Sibert said. “Those guys played very well, as we expected them to do. But a better team beats two good players.”
“We’ve played against LaSalle so many times and we know their guys so well,” Andrews said. “Really, it’s a pretty close group of guys between the two teams. They have two seniors who are terrific players who weren’t going to go away and they’re well-prepared and well coached. No way were they going to get here and lay down.”
Still, the Vikings believed all along the game was theirs to seize.
“We did a couple silly things and the refs made a couple bad calls, but we can’t blame it on that,” Sibert said. “We came out and did what we had to do when we got the ball back and we played straight-up great defense.”
And to add to the drama,
When asked if he is now rooting for Northland, Sibert said, “I don’t know. We just sure we win when we get there. That’s all we can hope for.”