Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Big Game 2-7-12: Benilde boys 60 DeLaSalle 59

Let’s be honest. The DeLaSalle gym is old, it’s small, it’s dark, it’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s noisy, especially as the Islanders’ great pep band is ripping through everything from the brass band standards to Led Zeppelin. All those things, and more, combine to make DeLaSalle a great place to see a game. And if you happen to have 2 games, well, that’s twice as nice, especially when all four teams are rated in their respective top fives.

And that’s what we had Tuesday night—a boy/girl doubleheader matching arch-rivals Benilde-St. Margaret's and DeLaSalle. The girls game description can be found at The boys game description is as follows.

The Red Knights of Benilde-St. Margaret's seemed to be in control of the DeLaSalle Islanders much of the way Tuesday night, fashioning a 34-27 half-time lead, and extending that to 54-45 at the 5 minute mark. But the Islanders slowly pulled back into the game, getting within 4 at 3:39. 

Then at 58-52 at 1:45, Reid Travis cleanly stripped Sanjay Lumpkin at mid-court and took it in for a lay-up. Lumpkin fouled Travis from behind, drawing the intentional/flagrant call. Travis made 1-of-2 throws, and then Luke Scott came off the double screen at the top of the key to pop the 3, getting the Islanders to their closest approach to Benilde since 28-27. 30 seconds later Scott popped open in the same spot, missed the 3 but was fouled, and made all 3 throws for DeLaSalle's 1st lead since 27-26.

But Isaiah Zierden responded with a big time shot, taking an in-bounds pass, driving to the top of the key, then putting up a jumper with 2 defenders all over him. It went in at :18 for the final score of 60-59. DeLaSalle was unable to get off a good shot in :18, settling for a desperation 3 at the final buzzer.

Luke Scott and Reid Travis scored all of the DeLaSalle points down the stretch, and 23 of 32 for the half. For the game it was Scott leading the Islanders with 18 while Travis scored 16. 

For Benilde, it was equally a 2 man show, as Lumpkin and Zierden combined for 37 points. The difference in the game was that Benilde's supporting cast--Isaiah Gray, Will Dunn, et al--was a little better than DeLaSalle's. But of course the Islanders' cast is very largely made up of sophomores and juniors and, if not 2012, their "year" is out there ahead of them. For Benilde, the future is now.

The 1st half had started out, in fact, as the Sanjay Lumpkin show. He scored the game's 1st 2 points on the fast break, then 2 more on an alley-oop from Isaiah Gray. He added 3 buckets in a row around the 11-13 minute mark on 2 drives to the rim and another fast break, this one triggered by a Danon Briggs steal. Lumpkin got down the court in transition in about 3 big strides, it seemed. His other highlight was an absolutely filthy crossover dribble approaching the lane for a lay-up and a 32-27 Benilde lead 1:42 before half-time. 

Lumpkin kind of disappeared in the 2nd half, however, with 6 points compared to 14 in the 1st, and I only had him down for 2 boards (both on the offensive end) on the night. Still, there were an assortment of assists, steals and blocks on his resume along with those 20 points.

Oddly enough, DeLaSalle shot 46 percent in falling behind by 7 at intermission. They clawed back into it in the 2nd half despite shooting 42 percent. Of course, those numbers mirror the Knights' who shot 58 percent in the lay-up drill that was their 1st half, and shot 43 percent in the 2nd. DeLaSalle's comeback had more to do with the possession game as the Knights got off 3 more shots in the 1st half, DeLaSalle 5 more in the 2nd. 

It was cold outside, but it was steaming in the Islanders' gym. And nothing was decided until a DeLaSalle 3 fell short at the final buzzer.

Player of the Day

Isaiah Zierden was the player of this game with 17 points, 8 boards and 3 assists, and of course the game-winning shot.

But Tyseanna Johnson of DeLaSalle was spectacular with 33 points and 14 rebounds in the girls game earlier in the evening. She is Player of the Day.

Coach of the Day

Dave Thorson, DeLaSalle boys, despite the loss. He not only had his kids ready to play but they were all the more ready to play after falling down 54-45 with 5 minutes to play.

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