Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
The Basketball Tournament weekend is officially over, with only two teams left standing and a June 28 date set for the finals at a location to be determined. Here’s how the two finalists punched their tickets in Sunday’s action:
Team Barstool 87, Big Apple Basketball 81 (OT)
It took an extra four minutes, but the top-seeded Team Barstool was able to outlast Big Apple Basketball 87-81 in the first semifinal of the day.
Dahntay Jones was the leading scorer for Barstool, scoring 24 points, including 8-of-11 from the free throw line, and adding four rebounds. Big Apple’s Corsely Edwards had 24 points of his own, connecting on 10 of his attempted 14 shots (71 percent).
“It was some good competition going against those guys,” Jones said. “They gutted it out, they played the whole game and overtime, they played hard. We got out a little bit, then we started to hold the ball and that didn’t fair well for us. Matty (Walsh) made some big shots for us in overtime and we got a good win.”
Big Apple’s Luke Bonner was fouled from beyond the three-point line and connected on all three free throws to tie the game at 74 with 13 seconds remaining.
“That was just a terrible basketball play by me against Bonner at the end,” Barstool’s Walsh, who fouled Bonner in the waning seconds of regulation, said. “But that was a great game, we had eight guys, we had five guys and it was one of the most fun games that I’ve been involved with in awhile.”
Walsh scored his team’s first nine points of the overtime period for his team, including one three-pointer, to give Barstool a five-point cushion that was retained until the final buzzer.
Now that Team Barstool is in the final, they may have to decide where the June 28th final will be played. David Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports and Team Barstool, listed New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Gainesville (Fla.) and Nantucket (Mass.) as possible destinations.
“I’ll be on vacation so it makes sense,” Portnoy said.
Fighting Alumni 91, PeacePlayers International 61
The Notre Dame alumni team shot the ball early and often and it led to a blowout 91-61 victory of PeacePlayers International.
The Fighting Alumni shot 63 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc in the win, led by Russell Carter’s 20-point, seven rebound performance. PeacePlayer forward Charron Fisher led his team with 20 points as well.
All but one of the Fighting Alumni players, excluding Seton Hall’s Paul Gause, have played under current head coach Mike Brey. The Fighting Irish head coach’s footprint is all over this team and, after four years working with him, it didn’t take long for the team to gel together.
“Before Coach Brey started going with the slow burn, where you just pass it around, that’s kind of what we stuck to once we got up,” guard Charlie Thomas said. “It’s just a smart strategy, with Ty [Nash] being a versatile point forward. It was a no-brainer. Everyone was tired, but I think our strategy helped us get easy layups just off of hustle points and I think that it surprised them.
“Being at Notre Dame, we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned to play with people and work together.”
There was also plenty of support for the Fighting Alumni, with a small cheering section building as the team pulled away early, opening the game with a 38-11 run.
“Notre Dame is the embodiment of the word ‘family’,” Carter said. “When you get this far, there’s been small pictures posted and there’s hundreds of likes of Facebook just because it’s Notre Dame. Anytime Notre Dame wins, it could be checkers, it could be anything, you’ll have a million followers because it’s blue and gold.”
The Fighting Alumni players and coaching staff now could have a decision to make. If they get the opportunity to pick the location of the final, it’s no surprise that they’ll be looking to play in South Bend, Ind. as the spot.
And, if they top Team Barstool in the finals a few weeks from now, coach Kiernan Pillar says the portion of the winnings will be donated to Coaches vs. Cancer, an organization in which Brey is extremely invested in.