For a split-second, Monte Stroman’s shot hung on the rim, and with it hung the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team’s chances of knocking off defending champion Henninger in Tuesday night’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal.
Instead of falling through the net, though, the ball fell off, and Dylan Lambert’s attempt to put home a rebound was off line, too, and by that tiny margin, the no. 6 seed Brothers lost, 52-51, to the Black Knights.
Just the fact that it was so close (17 lead changes and 12 ties) was a massive contrast to the other game between CBA and Henninger this season. The Black Knights rolled past the Brothers 72-48 on Dec. 30 in the consolation game of the Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic.
But that came less than 24 hours after CBA had suffered a draining last-second defeat to Jamesville-DeWitt in the opening round of that tournament, and before the first of two games with “Holy War” rival Bishop Ludden.
The circumstances were far different here. Confident after its 58-44 victory over Nottingham in the opening round on Feb. 15, the Brothers, winners of eight of its last nine games, would make Henninger uncomfortable for all 32 minutes, right to the last shot.
CBA found itself in front for most of the first half, but also found itself unable to get away, the Black Knights staying right with them as the Brothers could only take a 29-27 lead to the break.
And the tense standoff continued in the third quarte. The Brothers’ margin inched up to 37-31 at one point, but Henninger promptly answered with an 8-0 run before CBA went back in front, 42-39, heading into the final period.
They continued to trade blows, but CBA took a 48-44 edge with less than three minutes left, and still were up, 50-48, when Destin Blunt hit a pair of free throws that pulled Henninger even with 53 seconds left.