On Thursday night, the Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks (10-2) pulled away late to defeat the Springstead Eagles (7-6) by a 64-54 margin at the Eagles’ Nest. Springstead had been improving toward the middle of their schedule, but the Mavericks have had a strong season throughout with only two close losses. The semifinal match of the Greg O’Connell Shootout felt like a heavy weight fight that the Eagles might win as they led at the end of each of the first three quarters, but a late run by the visitors would end the upset bid.
“I thought we played three and a half quarters of perfect basketball,” Springstead Head Coach Matt McGarry said. “We really lost our heads in the last three minutes of the game. We did not execute very well. It was going to take executing all night long to get it done. We just were not able to do that down the stretch and that is when it matters the most. You can execute all you want for 26 minutes, but if you are not going to do it for the full 32 you might lose a close one.”
The score was tied late into the first quarter before some late baskets by Senior G Austin Nicholson (20 points, 3 steals) and Junior F Zion McKenzie (11 points) helped give the home team the 15-12 advantage heading into the second. Quarter number two was much the same way. It was also tied with the third frame for the lowest scoring period between the two teams. Most of the Mavericks’ damage was done on a pair of baskets from beyond the arch in the first half of the quarter. Senior Enrique Duboy would log a steal and score the final points on a layup to go with the earlier three-pointer. Nicholson again scored the Eagles’ last baskets of the quarter with a three-point play and a short jumper to give them the razor thin 25-24 lead at the half. The home team would also fail to add anything else over the final 1:54, which was less than ideal for Coach McGarry’s squad.
After the intermission, a close, low-scoring third quarter saw Springstead holding onto a three-point lead. That held until 3:38 left in regulation. After trailing by three midway through the final frame, Archbishop McCarthy turned on the afterburners and scored 14 unanswered points over 2:49 of game time. Duboy showed up again with 7 points during this stretch including another trey. Seniors Guy Twitty, George Sterr, and Abe Korkis contributed to the onslaught as well. By the time the barrage was over, under a minute remained and there was not enough time for Springstead to recover. The teams traded a pair of scores each before the clock struck zero. Coach McGarry saw some positives but needs to see a little more from his bench players and team in situations like these.
“In spurts, but not enough,” Coach McGarry said. “If we are going to really make that turn, we are going to need more bench contributions. I will say that we were able to get a lot out of [Junior F Xylus Pastrana] who came in, he played out of position, played extremely hard, and he gave us what we needed in a stretch where we really needed it bad… So, we need more bench contributions if we want to take that next step to be a team that is going to be reckoned with.”
Looking ahead to day three of the competition, Archbishop McCarthy will play in the championship match against the University Cougars (10-2) at 7:30 on Friday night. Due to their loss on Thursday, the Eagles will play for third place at the holiday shootout on Friday. Coach McGarry and company will continue to look for more contribution from their bench when they face off against the Mitchell Mustangs (7-8) at 4:30.
“There is a lesson to be learned here and I hope they do because that is a damn good team,” Coach McGarry said. “They are a top team in the state. There was a reason they are going to be in the championship game and these guys got to understand that there was reason we could have been there, too… Our guys are doing it. We just got to do it at a higher level.”