Bookstore Basketball: Final four field set
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, April 21, 2016
Drones 21, Team 42 16
The third-ranked Drones took on the No. 6 ranked Team 42 in the first Elite Eight matchup of the 2016 Bookstore Basketball tournament. As soon as the game started it was evident the Drones’ size advantage was going to be a factor.
The Drones’ center made three quick buckets on the inside to open up the lead right out the the gate, 3-1. The game slowed down after the quick opening, as both teams played with tight 2-3 zones. Strong defense from both kept the scoring low: It was just 5-2 after 10 minutes.
While the Drones relied on their size, Team 42’s offense ran through their dynamic point guard. Before half the Drones extended their lead to 9-6, but an immediate response from Team 42 kept it close. Going into halftime, the game was tight with a score of 11-9.
To open the second half the Drones’ center grabbed five consecutive offensive rebounds before being fouled.
Holy Cross College senior and Drones guard Karl Columbus suggested their size advantage was their key to success.
“Our inside game is our biggest strength,” Columbus said. “If we keep pounding it inside we can win it all.”
The second half began like the first, with scoring coming in bunches. Soon after, the zones tightened up again, stalling the game at 15-12. The Drones never found themselves behind, but were unable to pull away from Team 42.
“We had to be patient. They had some quick scrappy guys so we just couldn’t turn the ball over,” Columbus said. “We let them back into the game when we rushed it.”
However, the Drones soon found scoring from senior forward Dalton Wagner, who scored three layups in a row. Team 42 could not close the gap, and the Drones moved on to the Final Four.
Finnegan’s 21, Harden the Paint 2 13
The top-seeded Finnegan’s topped No. 9 Harden the Paint 2 by a score of 21-13 in the Elite Eight on Wednesday evening. Finnegan’s, led by senior captain Patrick Mazza, are the defending Bookstore Basketball champions and looked ready to repeat in this matchup, jumping out to a healthy 11-5 halftime lead and controlling the game from there. They moved the ball well against their opponent’s zone defense and found a good balance between throwing the ball inside to Mazza and knocking down jumpers from the outside.
“I thought we played well,” Mazza said. “I thought our offense looked good. … We have a lot of good passers so we were really able to find the seams in the zone, and that’s working well so we’re feeling pretty good at this stage.”
Mazza, looking to lead Finnegan’s to back-to-back championships, talked about that specific goal of the team and what it would mean to repeat.
“I think [repeating] has been our mentality all along,” Mazza said. “Even though we won last year, we’re still a hungry bunch. We want it just as bad as anybody, especially since no Notre Dame team has gone back-to-back in the last twenty years, it’d be pretty cool to accomplish that feat, so that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Top-seeded Finnegan’s moves on to the Final Four, while Harden the Paint 2 is eliminated from the tournament.
Team 2 21, Big Bodies 18
On Wednesday night, second-seeded Team 2 defeated No. 10 Big Bodies, 21-18, to move onto the Final Four.
The game started out close, as both teams traded baskets throughout the first part of the half. Early on in the game, as Big Bodies took off on a fast break, a player on Team 2 wrapped up the dribbler, throwing him to the ground. A short scuffle broke out, but the referees broke it up quickly, assigning a double technical foul.
Team 2 graduate student Kyle Rubbinaccio said his team was able to keep level heads despite the incident.
“Basketball is very mental,” he said. “If you let that kind of stuff trigger throughout the game you’re not gonna have an optimal performance.”
Big Bodies answered by making three shots in a row, bringing the score to an even 6-6.
Coming into game, Rubbinaccio said Team 2 was ready for a challenge.
“They’re a very tough team, pretty good shooting team, very physical,” Rubbinaccio said. “We knew we had to work hard, play as hard as we can, and whatever the score may be, it would be.”
The shooters on both teams were hot later in the first half. After Team 2 made a shot from behind the line, the Big Bodies answer with one of their own before Team 2 hit yet another deep shot, bringing the score to 11-9 at halftime in favor of Team 2.
Team 2 started to pull away some in the second half. The Big Bodies didn’t go down easy, but Team 2 was able to utilize quick ball movement and dominant rebounding to get some good looks in the paint. They closed out the game with a deep shot several feet beyond the 3-point line.
Team 2 will take on the Drones on Court Four at 6 p.m. this Friday.
Rubbinaccio said his team has a great chance to take home the win and advance to the final round of the tournament.
“We play a law student and a few Holy Cross students,” he said. “I saw them play a little bit. They’re very solid, very physical. We’ve just gotta stick to our game plan. I think we have enough talent to come out victorious.”
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