The home crowd was fired up for what would turn out to be a nail bitter with Acalanes going into a shootout against the mighty Redwood Giants taking the game all the way to the final buzzer.
With both teams coming off tough losses, the Dons to Branson who ultimately won the tournament, and Redwood losing to Saint Ignatius, who finished second, they were driven to fight for 3rd place.
The game got started with some tough defense from both teams and some interesting fouls which seemed to be indicative of the game ahead. The first points were put up by Theo Stoll when he was sent to the line getting fouled moving to the middle. It was back and forth the entire period – a floater by Redwood followed by a floater by Theo, Redwood hitting a 3 then Noah hitting a 3, Redwood stealing and getting a fast break for 2 and Theo answering with a drive of his own for 2, Jake driving inside for 2, Redwood hitting an outside 3, Zubin Acuna hitting for 2 and Redwood slashing underneath for 2. By the end of the period it was neck and neck with the Dons just trailing by one at 15-16.
The second period was another back and forth grinder with Dons going toe to toe with Redwood. Some early foul trouble saw both teams starting to work the bench into the play making.
Tyler Murphy, Colin Norstad and Nathan Bennett all contributed to extending the Dons tough defensive play and Murphy had a nice drive to the middle that kept the crowd fired up and kept the Redwood lead close.
Brady Quinn got into the action had great ball movement keeping Redwood on their toes and had a pretty assist to Jack for a sweet jumper. With fresh legs, Jake came back in picking up where he left off working the middle and a highlight of the period was Jake’s turnaround skyhook a la Kareem, making it a three-point game at half: 28-31 Redwood leading.
The first half can be summed up by a back and forth battle, the Dons fighting in the middle and Redwood consistently hitting outside 3s. Both teams started the 3rd period with a look of determination and the gym was filled with an air of suspense and thick tension. The period started quickly with a classic Jack Bayless drive to the hoop for 2 followed up with a sweet looking put back 2 from Jake Davis that was called back. It wasn’t long before Jake made another drive in the middle for 2 giving the Dons the lead for the first time since early in the first period. The quick 4-0 run for the Dons was pretty to watch but then the Redwood trees hit back to 3s and with 2:44 left in the 3rd it was a 5-point game at 32-37. Redwood got another bucket underneath and the period ended 32-39.
The turnovers allowed Redwood to capitalize in the 3rd, but Redwood’s continual fouling put the Dons into bonus early in the 4th giving a bit of hope it could have impact down the stretch as the Dons started to get back in the swing in the 4th. Once again Bayless got the Dons going, driving up the middle for a bucket, making a fast break for a layup, then feeding Jake for an inside shot which sent Davis to the line.
With 5:22 left in the game it was back to a 3-point game at 38-41. Theo started running a feverish offense, the crowd was tense with excitement and then in the last part of the period Noah Bloch seemed to take over, knocking down 3s and converting free-throws keeping it a 2-point game down the stretch. On his final 3 Noah made it 48-49 with 6.2 left.
The Dons kept playing the foul game but Redwood kept hitting free-throws. With 4.6 left in the game Redwood sealed the victory 48-51 and locked in 3rd place in the tournament.
The 7th Annual Chris Huber Classic provided a great way to round out 2021! Huge thanks to Acalanes for hosting a successful tournament, and even with a tough loss, it was indeed “a beautiful day in Lafayette”. Happy New Year Dons!