#HGBuzzerBeater Classic AM Spotlight, Day 1

Division I schools La Salle University from the A10, Robert Morris from the Northeast Conference, and a multitude of Division II and III schools were in attendance to watch the morning matchup between the Crusader Nation and New York Havoc. With a trip to the winner’s bracket on the line, both teams showed some early game jitters to start.

Team Havoc jumped out to a quick 17-5 lead behind the energy and hustle of their point guard number 12, William Aybar.  Aybar set the pace of the game from the opening tip, extending the defensive pressure 94 feet and advancing the basketball by passing ahead.  Crusader Nation eventually acclimated to the frenetic pace of play, but consistently trailed double digits throughout the game’s first 10 minutes.  The Nation never looked comfortable in their half court sets, struggling to execute against the extended pressure of Havoc.  Skilled 6’8” forward Joe Delollo (#33) provided a perimeter, threat stretching the defense and opening driving lanes for Havoc’s lighting quick Aybar.  Crusader Nation eventually found a way to put up points up through second chance opportunities and fast break chances. They went on a 10-2 run and cut the lead to seven to close out the half.

The Nation continued their aggressive play to start the second half, finishing contested shots around the basket and creating and-1 opportunities.  With momentum on their side and foul situations softening up Havoc’s defensive pressure, the Nation began to convert on open jump shots. Although he showcased a soft touch around the basket and consistent face up game outside the paint, Delollo was unable to guard the perimeter on defense.  Delollo was forced to soft contest on screen and roll switches and gave up easy driving angles to Crusader Nation’s guards. Havoc trailed by two points going into the game’s final four minutes.  

The game came down to the final possession in regulation, tied at 60 with a little over eleven seconds remaining. Crusader Nation was set to take the ball out on a side out of bounds.  The ball was inbounded, and a down screen was set away from the ball in an effort to free up their team’s leading scorer for the game, number 0-Nick Parrish.  He was denied but eventually caught the ball out near half court under duress.

With three seconds remaining he stepped into a 30 foot pull-up jumper that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before swishing through the net; ending the game and advancing the Nation to the winner’s bracket.  When asked about what was going through his mind in the closing seconds, Parrish responded, “I won’t lie to you, I practice that shot a lot…a hesitation to a pull up three—so, to see it finally come to work, it’s a blessing man. It felt great”.  Parrish continued on to speak about his team’s togetherness, “I’ve played with these guys for four years now–with these guys they go out and give it a hundred percent every game. It’s more like a family than a team.  We all just play together, and play for each other”.  

Crusader Nation will look to build upon this momentum going into their next matchup.  Joe Delollo for Havoc led the team in scoring with 15 points, while Parrish finished with 12 points, 10 in the 4th quarter and the game winner.