Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
By: Patrick Z. McGavin
Brian Howard had the opportunity every young guard dreams of with the ball in his hands, his team down and desperately needing a basket. He even waved off the chance to hit star center Nnanna Egwu on the inside post.
I was going to hold the ball and wait for my shot, the junior St. Ignatius guard said. I was going to finish the game on my own.
Howard hit an off-balance 18-footer with just under three seconds to play that gave the visiting Wolfpack the dramatic 71-69 overtime thriller over the No. 23 Caravan Friday night and ruined the host teams Senior Night.
Howard finished with 15 points. Ive practiced that shot hundreds, even thousands of times, he said. The Wolfpack (19-7) had no time outs left when they gained possession with 12 seconds on Egwus rebound of a missed Mount Carmel free throw. Howard is a clutch shooter who can make that shot, St. Ignatius coach Rich Kehoe said.
The scintillating Catholic League crossover game featured two Illinois-bound players, the Wolfpacks 6-10 Egwu and Mount Carmel point guard Tracy Abrams. Egwu had game-high totals of 24 points, nine rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals to lead the Wolfpack.
The game marked the third time in its last four Friday night games the Wolfpack have gone overtime. Significantly, the team won all three games. St. Ignatius raced out to a 9-0 lead. After the slow start, Abrams and the Caravan caught fire. Abrams hit three three-pointers and scored 14 points in the second quarter. Alex Austin (20 points) combined for 22 second quarter points that put the Caravan up 36-35 at the break.
Twelve of Mount Carmels first 19 baskets were three-pointers. It was very frustrating the way they were able to constantly make shots and they were contested, Kehoe said.
Egwu had a chance to end the game in regulation but he split two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining that forced the extra session tied at 62.
Mount Carmel junior Malcolm Hill-Bey (15 points) scored on a steal and breakaway lay up for the Caravans final lead at 68-66. Mount Carmel missed three free throws in the final minute that helped set up Howards heroics.
We missed some free throws and had some turnovers, but otherwise, it was a great game, Abrams said. Howard made a great shot.