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With the St. Bede boys basketball team up by a point in the final moments Tuesday against Peoria Notre Dame, Bruin senior Sam Lucas stepped to the line to shoot a bonus free throw.
With 11 seconds left, he had the game in his hands.
“It’s an anxious time in that situation,” Lucas said. “You’re scared but excited.” Strange because he never showed it.
Lucas calmly and confidently drained two bonus free throws to give SBA a three-point lead.
The Bruins then made a defensive stand as the Irish missed a contested game-tying 3-point shot as St. Bede held on for a 58-55 Senior Night victory.
“I can’t really put it into words,” Lucas said of the win on Senior Night. “There’s so much emotion, and I was tearing up at the end. I ended my career (in SBA’s Abbot Vincent Gymnasium) with a couple of clutch free throws. I wasn’t shooting very well in the second half, but to end the game and my time here at St. Bede on a good note meant so much.”
Lucas finished with eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-point shot.
He didn’t, however, do it alone.
Senior teammate Damin Smith hit five 3-point shots and finished with a game-high 23 points, while senior Brad Groleau drained a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points.
“They boxed-and-one Groleau, and I was talking to the coaches after the game and asked. ‘Did they do that because of his past (point) totals and 3s?’” SBA coach Mike Kilmartin asked. “If they did, they forgot about Damin and Sam.”
In all, with PND at times triple guarding SBA senior post Joe Pyszka, the Bruins hit 11 3-point shots Tuesday and had more 3-pointers than two-point field goals (8) and free throws attempted (10).
St. Bede (21-5) needed every one of its 3s.
Down 11-5 midway through the first quarter, the Bruins went on a 20-4 run to take a lead they held until the fourth quarter.
The Irish tied the game three times in the fourth quarter and took a 52-51 advantage on a fast-break layup from Shea Feehan with 1:43 to go.
However, Lucas put SBA back in front as the senior drained a 3-pointer with 1:10 left to give the Bruins a 54-52 lead.
PND’s Nic Reynolds then missed the game-tying shot. Smith grabbed the rebound, drove the court and put in a contested transition bucket in the lane to push the Bruin lead to 56-52 with 1:10 remaining.
Out of a PND timeout, SBA fouled Reynolds, who made the bucket and then the free throw for the three-point play to cut the Bruin lead to 56-55 with 46 seconds remaining.
After back-to-back quick fouls by PND put SBA a foul shy of the bonus, the Bruins were able to run nearly 25 seconds off the clock before the Irish were finally able to foul a Bruin player.
Lucas then stepped to the line and drained both bonus free throws.
A game-tying 3-point shot by Feehan hit the rim, bounced up and hit the wire above the net to give SBA possession with 1 second left.
The Bruins ran off the final second to earn the win.
“We came into this game with the underdog mindset, and that gave us more motivation,” Lucas said. “They had some pretty reputable players, but I think we did a really good job against the best team we may have played all year. We really showed up, and I am just so proud of my team.”
Feehan finished with a team-high 17 points for PND (14-11), while Nick Bell added 14 points.
Notes: With the win, this year’s SBA senior class finishes with just one home loss in two years on varsity. Their only home defeat came in this season’s home opener against IVC. ... The victory over a PND was the third this season and second straight for the Bruins against a Class 3A team. Four of St. Bede’s five losses this season have come to 3A teams (Mendota twice, Bloomington Central Catholic and IVC). ... The St. Bede sophomore team fell to PND 58-46. Jack Brady had a game-high 23 points for SBA.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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