Bookstore Basketball: Three-time champs advance to semifinals
No. 2 Finnigans def No. 7 Team 537, 21-12
Finnigans made its mark early in the game, scoring quickly on their first possession, but Team 537 was able to match their higher-ranked opponents for a time, replying to each score to keep the game tied at 3-3.
Finnigans captain and senior Peter Sullivan said adjusting to team changes prevented his team from controlling the game early on, but in the end the players’ talent shone through.
“I haven’t been playing the last couple of games,” said Sullivan. “We’ve had some new guys in, and I think we definitely started out a little slow, but we knew we were the better team and the better team won.”
Finnigans soon pulled away, with its noticeable height advantage in the frontcourt allowing the team to dominate rebounds as it opened up a 7-3 lead and eventually went into the half leading 11-6.
“I think our size really helps us,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got some big boys with big wingspans and that really helps.”
Team 537, made up of Holy Cross College students, struggled to get back into the game or defend with Finnigans’ height advantage, as it eventually faded to a 21-12 defeat.
“We’re just some guys who like to play pickup basketball and hang out with each other, and we want to make a run at the bookstore tournament,” Sullivan said.
“I’m not sure of our chances of going all the way, and of beating some of the teams here, but that’s definitely the goal.”
No. 3 Boil a Cardinal Sagehen into an Irish Cavalier def. No. 6 Fallen Ballers, 21-18
This quarterfinal matchup started off slowly, as neither team managed to connect on their first few attempts from the field through the early possessions. After a while, the scoring started as Boil a Cardinal Sagehen into an Irish Cavalier led all of the first half and entered halftime with a 11-9 lead.
The second half stayed even until Cardinal Sagehen scored on back-to-back breakaways to take a 15-12 lead. Cardinal Sagehen closed out the game by making its free throws to win 21-18.
Captain John Welsh said the key to the Cardinal Sagehen victory was defense.
“I think it starts on the defensive end,” Welsh said. “We made a little run there, they got back in the game. Once we were locked in on defense, we were alright. Once we played defense, our offense comes.”
The second half of the game was also marked by chippy play as an altercation erupted between the two teams after a contested rebound. Welsh said scuffles like those are just the nature of the game.
“You know, it’s outdoor basketball,” Welsh said. “Two teams playing hard, there’s going to be some trash talking. I don’t think anyone meant any harm by it.”
For Cardinal Sagehen, the key to moving forward will be rebounding, Welsh said.
“Definitely rebounding,” Welsh said. “We’ve got one guy over 6-foot-3. If we rebound and play tough D, we should be alright.”
No. 1 Holy Cross Seniors def. No. 8 Little Big Boy, 21-9
The Holy Cross Seniors are no strangers to the final weekend of bookstore basketball; they are the three-time defending champions of the tournament. The Seniors rolled into the semifinals once more, defeating the Little Big Boys, 21-9, on Thursday. Holy Cross captain Zoe Bauer said he was particularly pleased with his team’s defense.
“I think the key was our defense,” Bauer said. “We kind of switched to a zone. We played a little man, we played a little zone. We’ll probably switch back to man tomorrow night.
“Those guys were big, they’re the strongest guys we’ve played in the tournament so far. We couldn’t guard them one-on-one, we had to suck down on their bigs that way.”
Offensively, the Seniors relied heavily on jump shots throughout the game. Bauer himself made numerous long-range shots, and he said he was happy their shots were falling.
“Today, obviously we hit shots,” Bauer said. “We’re playing outside, shots are going to fall for us. Tomorrow, it depends on the weather, we’re going to have to move the ball around and get some layups.”
Bauer also said his team’s experience will play a big factor in their upcoming games.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games over our four years,” Bauer said. “The closer the game, the more relaxed we are. I think it favors us.”
No. 4 The Drones def No. 5 Team 43, 21-15
The Drones pulled out a hard fought victory Thursday against both Team 43 and a vocal crowd pulling for their opponent, 21-15.
Relying on transition buckets and timely shooting, the Drones were able to keep Team 43 from ever seriously challenging them, despite the fact that Team 43 continued to shoot the ball well from long range.
The Drones used transition layups and fast break points in the first half to jump out to an early lead, but fouls and a late run from Team 43 cut the lead to 11-8 by the end of the first half.
The second half saw much of the same, as the Drones raced out to a quick 19-12 lead as the sun was setting. Team 43 mounted a slight rally to make it 19-15, but it was too late. The Drones ultimately held on for a 21-15 victory and a spot in the final four.
“These guys beat us last year when they had (former Notre Dame captain and starter) Garrick Sherman playing with them, so we were excited for an opportunity at the rematch,” Drones captain Michael Bradley said. “We came into the game confident we would win, and we got the win.”
With a match looming against top-seeded Holy Cross Seniors, Bradley said his team is ready for the challenge.
“It’s great [to be in the final four.] It’s my first time — in fact, it’s all of our first times in the final four,” he said. “We know that we’re playing a team that hasn’t lost in four years at bookstore basketball, but a couple of our guys have been teammates with most of their team. So it’ll be a fun game, we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Semifinals, Friday
No. 2 Finnigans vs. No. 3 Boil a Cardinal Sagehen into an Irish Cavalier, 6 p.m.
No. 1 Holy Cross Seniors vs. No. 4 The Drones, 7 p.m.