The Archbishop Hanna Hawks clinched it in overtime over the Credo Gryphons, 62-55, Fri., Feb. 1 at the Callinan Sports Center.
The loss deals a devastating blow to the Gryphons’ chances to qualify for the playoff season. They’re required to maintain a winning record and are currently sitting at ten wins and nine losses. With only two games left in the season, the loss leaves Credo in a difficult, must win position if they hope to participate.
“Pressure makes people do stupid things—for lack of a better term. The Hawks play a hard pressure defense and if you don’t respond to that pressure well then you get turnovers,” Credo coach, Tucker Hemquist, said. “Turnovers are the name of the game in basketball. Limiting turnovers. And we didn’t do it.”
The Gryphons began strong. They took the lead in the first half when Silas Rowan-Herzog intercepted a pass to the Hawks’ Chris Sanders. The sudden reversal caught the Hawks flat-footed. They shifted to respond, but could only muster a single defender to stick in Herzog’s way.
It wasn’t enough. Herzog rushed the basket. The defender moved to intercept, but Herzog had already started his jump. His shoulder slammed into the defender with a blow that sent the Hawk crashing to the ground. The ball left Herzog’s fingers in a layup and rolled along the rim before falling into the net.
The Gryphons closed out the half with a nine-point lead.
The Hawks weren’t ones to take it laying down, however. They came back in the second half with some new pep.
In the far corner of the Gryphon defensive formation lies a small gap—one the Hawks’ coach, Courtney Jackson, noticed and took full advantage. Jackson set the Hawks in a whirling offensive pattern that passed the ball until it landed on the periphery. From there, the Hawks shot, often unopposed, and though the majority of these three-point attempts remained attempts, they got the rebound often enough for it to make no difference.
The coach’s plan worked thrice in the second half the coach’s plan worked. Two shots by the Hawks’ Donald Jackson and one by Chris Sanders ate up the difference in score. The Hawks pulled ahead, but only to be overtaken again the Gryphons, who then lost the lead back to the Hawks.
“In the first half I don’t know what team that was,” Jackson said. “[Credo’s] too fast for us and I realized that at half time. I’m asking my boys to do something they can’t do, which is stay in front of them. When you go to zone you don’t have to stay in front. They’ve just got to protect their area.”
By the end of the game Jackson had become a bit of a fixture—his shouted instruction somehow echoed over the cheers of the hundred or so fans in the bleachers. Eventually he took it bit too far. Jackson’s animated shouts carried him onto the court and landed the Hawks a technical foul.
The Gryphons got one free basket from the foul, which was just enough to tie up the game and take it into overtime.
Overtime proved a disaster for the Gryphons. The Hawks launched a blistering offensive that pulled in an even twelve points and clinched the game.
“The biggest thing for them to do is just put it behind them and just focus on the fundamentals,” Tucker said. “We have a little redemption chance next week.”
Next up for the Gryphons is their season finale against Upper Lake Feb. 7. After that, and if the Gryphons qualify, they’ll be headed to the playoffs.