PRINCETON — Friday’s game between the Princeton Tigers and St. Bede Bruins looked like it was going to go down to the last shot. It did, but the Tigers ran out of time.
Garrett Duffin sank two free throws with 7.1 seconds to bring the Tigers within 50-47 and Jack Brady answered with a pair of free throws at the 6.6 mark to put the Bruins back up by five.
PHS inbounded and J.J. Vaccaro brought the ball upcourt, but the scoreboard clock did not tick until the St. Bede bench and crowd erupted. Vaccaro buried a three-pointer with time still showing on the clock. Game official Kenny Wilcoxen of Princeton rushed to the scorer’s table signaling the shot was good, and then waved off the game, saying time should have expired.
“Thank God the referee knew what was going on. There may have been a little bit of time left, but as an official you can’t guess. You’ve got to say, ‘No, this is over,’” St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin said. “That could cost you the game. That could be another possession. We could throw the ball away.”
PHS coach Jesse Brandt said Wilcoxen made the right call.
“I didn’t know it didn’t start, but there was only 1.6 left and they didn’t start (the clock) until halfcourt. It’s probably a good call on their part,” he said.
The Tigers executed their game plan with senior Zach Andersen getting prepared for his future enrollment at West Point with some tight defense employment on St. Bede sophomore gun, Jarrett Olson. Averaging more than 18 points per game, Olson was held to 10 points.
However the Tigers were unable to contact St. Bede junior guard Jack Brady, who led all scorers with 23 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I thought Zach Andersen did a great job on him holding him to 10 points,” Brandt said. “Give Brady credit ... he stepped up and hit some shots and that was the difference in the game. We wanted other guys to beat us, and he was the guy that did it tonight.”
“There’s parts this year he has not shot like that. This is the Jack Brady from last year. If they take Jarrett away and Jack shoots like that, as you can see, we can weather that,” Kilmartin said.
Princeton (4-19) led for most of the first half, going up 14-12 on Garrett Duffin’s 3-pointer from the top of the key to end the first quarter and 16-12 on a hoop by Andersen to start the second quarter.
Back-to-back hoops by Tyler Clark on assists from Duffin and Zach Hicks had the Tigers up 22-19 with 2:02 left in the half. A three by Brady and a two by Sam Hal put the Bruins up 26-24 at the half.
The Bruins used a 11-0 run early in the third quarter to go up 37-28. Baylee Hopps’ putback made it 39-33 at quarter’s end.
Vaccaro heated up in the fourth quarter, hitting back-to-back threes to bring PHS within 45-39. He hit another trey at the 52.4 mark to make it 49-45 and added his fourth to end the game.
Vaccaro, who had a team-high 16 points, said it was nice to have a good shooting night on Senior Night.
“At the beginning of the season, I haven’t been shooting too well, but at practice lately, I’ve been shooting a lot more and getting my shot back. So, it’s starting to come along. It feels good knowing this was going to be one of my last home basketball games.”
Duffin had 10 points and Andersen eight for PHS (4-19).
* Notes: The four senior PHIS players - Vaccaro, Andersen, Hicks and Nate Duffy - were recognized with their parents along with the senior members of the cheerleaders, poms and Star Spangled Singers. ... PHS (15-7, 7-2) won the sophomore tilt 56-52 behind Jake Reinhardt (20 points) and Skye Behrends (17). St. Bede was led by Nathan Bartley (17) and Jon Dose (16).