Finnigan’s repeats as Bookstore Basketball champions
No. 1 Finnigan’s def. No. 2 Team 2.
History was made Sunday night as top-seeded Finnigan’s became the first Notre Dame-based team to repeat as Bookstore Basketball champions in 20 years as they defeated No. 2 seed Team 2.
The game started with Finnigan’s pounding the inside with their senior center and captain Patrick Mazza, but Team 2 played physically to counter the size advantage. But as the half drew on, Team 2 got into foul trouble, and Finnigan’s started to dominate on both ends of the court. Finnigan’s ended the half on a 6-0 run, including a string of Mazza layups and free throws, to make it 11-3.
“We knew it was going to be scrappy, and we knew it was going to be intense,” Mazza said. “A lot of those guys are our buddies who play with on club ball so we knew it was going to be a dogfight. But we felt that if we just stayed true to our game plan … get on the glass, and just try and outwork them, we would just come out on top. We kinda set the tone early and just pretty much had control of the game from there.”
Team 2 came out trying to increase the tempo of the game and catch Finnigan’s off guard, but the defending champs stood their ground and answered blow-for-blow. Mazza continued to use his size to his advantage and dominate the inside. Team 2 had to finish with four players on the floor, however, as one of the players dislocated his shoulder after a hard collision on a fast break. Although Team 2 managed to score three unanswered baskets to make the score 19-15 and get the crowd going, Finnigan’s put the game away, and calmly drained two straight free throws to win their second-straight title.
“I think came down to our confidence,” Mazza said. “We’ve been here, and we’ve won this, and starting last spring when we won it our goal was to repeat, so all along we’ve been confident in our ability to do that and so we’ve had close games and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we just have confidence in our guys and our team. … It’s awesome. It’s such a historic tournament, and some of the great athletes in Notre Dame history, the Bill Laimbeers, the Tim Browns, have won here on these courts, so to be a part of that and go out like this, winning back to back titles and heading out as a senior, it’s pretty special. Especially with these guys who have become some of my closest buddies.”
No. 2 Team 2 def. No. 3 The Drones
The first game of the Bookstore Basketball semifinals Friday pitted the second-seeded Team 2, captained by senior John Lammers, against the No. 3-seeded The Drones, who were led by graduate student Michael Bradley.
The Drones came out strong in the first half, using their size advantage to get baskets early and often while effectively slowing down Team 2’s offense with a 2-3 zone. The Drones built an 11-7 lead by halftime as the game became increasingly physical, with both teams and individuals in the crowd chirping at one another.
“It was a barn-burner,” Lammers said. “[The Drones] have a really good zone defense that we had trouble with in the beginning and it kept us at bay. We wanted to get out and run more, but it was pretty tough because they get back on [defense] and rebound well.”
Team 2 made its necessary adjustments and came out strong in the second half, riding the enthusiasm of their supporters and the foul trouble of their opponent to claw their way back, finally tying the game at 18 apiece. From there, both teams made clutch shots to put themselves in a position to win the game, but the difference came down to inability of The Drones to make late free throws, and Team 2 shots from the charity stripe to snatch the win.
“We had to stay physical, stay strong on D, and hope that they miss some free throws at the end,” Lammers said. “[The win] feels great, we got one more but this was a really, really fun game.”
No. 1 Finnigan’s def. No. 4 Traded by the 76ers for 3rd Round Draft Picks
The second semifinal game matched the top-seeded Finnigan’s and senior captain Patrick Mazza against No. 4 seed Traded by the 76ers for 3rd Round Draft Picks, who were captained by sophomore Reed Hunnicut and featured varsity basketball player and senior A.J. Burgett.
Besides being tasked with guarding Burgett for the majority of the game, junior forward Conor Colpoys carried the load offensively for Finnigan’s, making shots from all over the court and giving the defending champions a 11-5 halftime lead.
“Conor — there was really no answer for him today,” Mazza said. “I don’t know how many buckets he had but it’s gotta be close to 11 or 12, so he was just too much for them today.”
Finnigan’s didn’t fall prey to a comeback like it saw in the earlier semifinal. Instead, they picked right where they left off in the second half, playing methodically and executing their offensive and defensive sets well, using their skill and size to prevent any type of comeback from Traded by the 76ers for 3rd Round Draft Picks. Despite Burgett making several tough shots in the second half, Finnigan’s still won by a score of 21-15. Mazza, who sent a statement early with a made hook shot over Burgett, stuffed the stat sheet with a large collection of points, rebounds and blocks, and commented on the overall skill of his team and how they were able to play in the semifinal.
“We got some talented guys — guys that can really get into the lane and make some things happen with their penetration,” Mazza said. “I thought our guys fought hard … it was a great team effort by us.”