Holy Cross had defeated Beechwood 87-60, 19 days ago and entered the postseason hot, winners of 14 of 16 and the leading scorer in the state in Jacob Meyer.
Beechwood was 10-18, still trying to figure things out from losing second leading scorer Cash Harney nearly a month ago and going 2-6 without him.
None of that mattered come Wednesday night in the win or go home scenario.
The Tigers pulled off what will probably be considered one of the biggest upsets in the state in the district semifinal round, Jack Sullivan’s 3-pointer with six seconds left to give the Tigers a 67-64, stunning upset over the Indians.
“The players really played with the mindset of the 1980’s Detroit Pistons,” said Beechwood Coach Erik Goetz.
From the jump, the Tigers played physical tough defense and forced the Indians to make difficult shots.
“Meyer wasn’t able to get any easy baskets tonight,” added Goetz.
The Tiger’s defense led by Senior Guard Andrew Goodwin held Jacob Meyer to only 13 shot attempts, the lowest number in the star guard’s phenomenal career. The Indians were also held to only 34% shooting from the field and 22% from the three-point line.
Early in this one, there were times when it looked like the Indians might fully put the pedal to the metal and run away from the Tigers, but Sophomore Center Mattox Kelly had in Senior Guard Cameron Boyd’s words, “The best shooting performance by a big man in high school basketball that I’ve seen.”
Kelly added, “This week in practice my teammates and coaches just kept telling me to shoot it. Then when it came to the game I just felt confident to shoot and I was blessed to make those shots.”
Kelly nailed three 3-pointers and finished the first half with 15 points which helped the Tigers keep their upset-minded hopes alive, trailing 38-36 at the break.
“I told the guys if I would’ve told you guys you would only be down two at the half, I know you would happy with that,” Goetz said.
The Tigers made little adjustments after playing such a strong first half but one thing Coach Goetz did emphasize to his team was, “We’ve got to be strong with the ball and quit turning it over.”
The Indians tenacious defense forced the Tigers into 17 turnovers overall which led to 18 Holy Cross points. Jacob Meyer and Javier Ward finished with nine steals, a few leading to some highlight-reel dunks by Meyer.
In the second half, the Tigers jumped up to a seven point lead early in the third quarter. However, the Indians caught fire and looked as if they were finally finding their footing in this game. But with four minutes remaining in the game and the Indians leading 60-54, a foul followed by a technical foul was called on Holy Cross. The Tigers received four free throws, nailed all of them to cut the lead to two, and then followed that up by getting the ball back and Boyd finishing a layup to tie the game.
“I think that was one of the most important parts of the game. We were down six and then right like that we were back tied again,” added Boyd.
Things remained tight for the remaining four minutes and with under 40 seconds left and a tie game the Indians missed a potential game-winner and the Tigers grabbed the rebound. Boyd slowly dribbled up the court with the intent of waiting for the final shot. The Tigers moved the ball around before eventually calling a timeout with 11 seconds remaining.
“Coach told us just get the ball to Cam, you know he’s our best player, let’s see what he can do and go from there.” Sophomore guard Jack Sullivan said.
“I got the ball on the inbound and I was thinking about shooting. But they triple teamed me. I saw Sully (Jack Sullivan) wide open in the corner so I passed it to him.” Boyd said.
“When I saw my man leave me I raised my hand to signal to Cam you know I’m open. After I shot it I had no idea if I made it cause I was so nervous.” Sullivan said.
Sullivan drained the three-pointer from the left corner to give the Tigers a three-point advantage over the Indians. After multiple timeouts, the Indians would eventually inbound the ball, but their game-tying 3-point attempt was no good and the Tigers walked out of Covington Catholic High School with a victory.
“I told him in the huddle you know if you get the ball you’re gonna make it,” said Kelly.
Sullivan finished with six points but the 3-point shot will live in his memory forever.
“I’m just so happy for him. He’s a sophomore and he’s been having an up and down year and tonight he was able to knock down the big shot,” said Goetz.
Boyd led Beechwood with 23 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists. Kelly had 19 points and nine rebounds, Trevor Logue chipping in 12.
Beechwood will play Covington Catholic in the 35th district championship game Friday night in Park Hills at 7 p.m. Both teams will advance to the 9th region tournament.
Holy Cross’ season comes to a stunning end at 21-8. Meyer led the Indians with 27 points, hitting 15-of-15 from the charity stripe. His Holy Cross and high school basketball career ends with 3,345 points. Javier Ward added 14, Jacob Smith with 10.
Covington Catholic 86, Holmes 29
The Colonels (25-4) made quick work of the Bulldogs, jumping out to leads of 28-6 after one and 50-12 by the half to force a running clock.
Evan Ipsaro played just 10 minutes and dropped 17 points. Fourteen different Colonels scored in the contest as they hit 61% from the field and 11-of-22 from deep.
Damarcus Winn led Holmes with 11 points, Mark McCutchin adding 10, their season ending with a 3-22 record.
CovCath defeated Beechwood earlier in the season, 70-52 on January 6. Wednesday proves that doesn’t mean much.