Class B No. 8 Roncalli Catholic knocked off No. 4 Bennington in a Tuesday night thriller at the Lion’s Den to secure its fifth straight win.
The Crimson Pride rallied from a double-digit deficit to take down the Badgers 77-74 in overtime on a game-winning 3-pointer from senior Brooks Shetlar.
Story of the Game
The Badgers blitzed the Crimson Pride from the opening tip, raining 3s to build a 21-12 lead after the first quarter. Bennington continued to score efficiently throughout the second quarter, building the lead up to 14 on a four-point play from senior Easton Lapel late in the half.
Instead of crumbling, however, Roncalli fired back with a 7-0 run and went into the locker room only down by eight at halftime.
“We really just talked about changing a couple of things up defensively and then we just said ‘Just keep playing,’” Roncalli coach J.J. Stoffel said. “We hadn’t really made many shots, so we just kept saying ‘They’re going to fall, we’ll make a run, just got to stick with it.’”
The Crimson Pride carried its end-of-half momentum into the third quarter and exploded for 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting including 6-of-9 from deep. Roncalli coupled its lights-out shooting with improved effort on defense, closing the third quarter on an 8-0 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a six-point advantage heading into the fourth.
“I’ve got to give a tribute to the kids,” Stoffel said. “They work their tails off every single day. In the second half, they made them. That’s on them.”
Bennington settled back in on offense in the fourth, using a 9-0 run to briefly take the lead, but Roncalli responded with a 3 from Shetlar and a layup from Hunter Giles to surge back in front by four with two minutes to play.
The Badgers buckled down from there and held the Crimson Pride scoreless the rest of the way. After senior Gavin Olsen split a pair of free throws, a Bennington steal led to a three-point play from Austin Kaiser, tying the game up with 42.7 to play.
Roncalli had two cracks at the win, but a missed 3 and then an offensive foul gave the ball back to Bennington with 1.8 on the clock, and the Badger halfcourt prayer at the buzzer didn’t fall.
After two minutes of scoreless basketball to start overtime, Christian Swift scored on back-to-back possessions to put the Crimson Pride up by four with just over a minute to play. Jace Fitzgerald got Bennington on the board with a put-back, but Roncalli pulled the trigger on a dagger 3 with 34 on the game clock and 23 on the shot clock. The shot missed, giving Bennington plenty of time to work the ball around on the other end until Hudson Neuverth found Lapel at the basket for the game-tying layup with 13 seconds to go.
Roncalli pushed the ball ahead to Brady McGill on the wing and the senior put it on the deck, drawing multiple defenders and kicking out to Shetlar on the opposite wing for the deep catch-and-shoot 3 that found the bottom of the net. The buzzer sounded before Bennington in-bounded the ball.
“I don’t know if you want to draw it up like that if you’re trying to win a basketball game …” Stoffel said of the final 45 seconds. “With the 10 seconds and that open possession, let’s just go and then try and get some action to the basket with a kick, and Brooks made the shot. That’s all on the kids.”
Roncalli shot 19-of-30 from the field after halftime including 9-of-19 from 3. After hitting eight 3s in the first half, the Badgers hit just three triples in the second half and went 0-for-3 in overtime.
“They were hitting a lot of 3s in the first half and I think extending and talking more on the screens and getting more up on the 3-point shooters was a change, and then we made some shots too,” Stoffel said. “When you make shots in the second half, that also helps a lot.”
Four players scored in double figures for Roncalli, with each of them taking over at different points.
Swift led the way with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting including 2-of-5 from deep. He added six assists and two steals. Swift scored 18 points through three quarters then didn’t take a shot in the fourth, but he got going again in overtime with the two big buckets to open the scoring.
Senior X’arion Rankins provided a spark off the bench with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, getting to the rim at will and converting some impressive shots. He chipped in three assists as well.
After a scoreless first half, Giles went 4-for-4 from deep in the third quarter to spark the Roncalli comeback. The senior guard finished with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Shetlar, a 6-foot-4 senior, chipped in 12 points on 4-of-8 from 3 — including the game-winner — and seven rebounds.
“I think it’s awesome,” Stoffel said of his team’s offensive balance. “We talk about it all the time with our team, we need guys to step up in certain roles all the time. X’ari coming in and then just really going at the rim and finishing some shots, that was huge. Hunter hitting 3s in the third quarter. It was a little bit of everything, so it was kind of cool to see and listen to the guys talking and how excited they were for each other.”
Kaiser, a junior, posted a game-high 23 points for the Badgers, shooting 8-of-17 from the field including 5-of-11 from 3 with a pair of free throws and four rebounds. Nueverth added 19 points on 8-of-14 from the field with a 3-pointer, five rebounds and three assists. Junior guard Gavin Olson did a bit of everything with 13 points on 5-of-8 from the field (2-of-4 from3) and 1-of-2 from the foul line, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.