No. 1 Finnigan’s, No. 2 Practice Squad advance to Bookstore Basketball finals
Elizabeth Greason | Monday, May 1, 2017
No. 2 Practice Squad def. No. 11 Menard
Much of the action in the semifinal matchup between No. 2 Practice Squad and No. 11 Menard took place in the paint, as the two teams played a physical game in which Practice Squad came out victorious, 21-9.
Practice Squad junior captain Reed Hunnicutt said one of the keys to the win was his team’s strong start.
“We moved the ball really well and we had the size mismatch down low, so we got a lot of lobs that way,” Hunnicutt said. “We really got out and started playing defense. We tried not to give up that many point easily, so I think we did a good job of gathering ourselves after they came out pretty well.”
After this strong start, Practice Squad ended the first half up by 11-6. The team also came out strong in the second half, with Hunnicutt sinking multiple jumpers from outside the 3-point arc. Practice Squad went on a run to build up a significant lead and make it to game point. Menard was able to prevent Practice Squad from winning for a few possessions, but Practice Squad eventually won on a free throw, making the final score 21-9.
Hunnicutt said the opportunity to play in the tournament finals is one he plans to relish, as his team last year fell to Finnigan’s, its opponent in the final, last year.
“It means a ton [to make the final],” Hunnicutt said. “Last year, my team personally got out in the Final Four to [Finnigan’s], so to have that rematch is a great opportunity and we’re really looking forward to it.”
No. 1 Finnigan’s def. No. 4 Truman Jobs
In the back-and-forth, physical face off between No. 1 Finnigan’s and No. 4 Truman Jobs, the top-seeded, two-time defending champions Finnigan’s came out on top, 21-14.
Truman Jobs jumped out to a small, early lead, but Finnigan’s was quickly able to regain it. Much of the action occurred in the paint, making rebounding an integral part of the game.
One of the game’s most vital players in the game was senior Finnigan’s captain Conor Colpoys. Colpoys’ layups and 3-pointers gave Finnigan’s the upper hand, allowing the top-seeded squad to maintain the 11-8 lead at halftime.
Colpoys said the game was close due to Truman Jobs’ strong defensive effort, especially on the part of senior Jacob Matuska.
“Matuska’s a really good defender. He’s one of the few guys in the whole tournament who can guard [graduate student Patrick] Mazza, just cause he’s a football player, a really strong kid,” Colpoys said. “So, they were really tough on us defensively.”
After the half, however, Finnigan’s was able to lock down Truman Jobs’s offense, as they only scored six points, most of which came early in the half. Truman Jobs also got into foul trouble during the second half, and the team grew apparently frustrated and the game grew increasingly chippy and heated. Finnigan’s was able to maintain its lead, and Colpoys made the winning shot to give Finnigan’s the 21-14 win.
“I thought our defense really locked them up,” Colpoys said. “It was close the whole first half and then we got a comfortable lead in the second half and forced them to turn it over a few times, got them in foul trouble, made a couple from the line and from there we just kind of grinded out the win. So, a lot of loose balls for us, but they were tough.”
Colpoys is excited for the final round, as it bring his team one step closer to a three-peat, as it has won the tournament the last two years.
“Me, [graduate student Brian] Spahn and Mazza have been playing together, this is our fourth year,” Colpoys said. “I know Holy Cross three-peated, but I don’t think a Notre Dame team — there’s a lot of great players that played in it — but I don’t think anybody’s ever three-peated, so that’s kind of been our goal.
“We’re playing a lot of the same guys we played in the championship last year, they added a couple more. We play club with all of them. I know the rematch of basically the club team. So, it means a lot. We’re looking forward to it, it’s kind of what we’ve been looking forward to.”
Because of weather, the matchup has been pushed to Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.