Cardinal’s boys’ basketball team was on the verge of limping into the postseason riding a 13-game losing streak. Instead, the Huskies make the big plays in the game’s closing seconds to pull out a 50-49 win at Fairport Harding on Saturday.
Craig Kaser hit a pair of free throws to pull the Huskies to within 49-48 and Luke Timas was fouled after he picked off an errant Fairport pass. He missed the front end of the one-and-one but after a time out Jerry Tamburro laid in a game-winning runner with .8 seconds left on the clock.
“I’m really proud of all the kids,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “They all played excellent. We had a really rough first half, mentally with some silly fouls and we had a couple guys in foul trouble in the first half. For them to turn around in the second half says a lot about the kids as far as how hard they want to work and how much they really wanted to win this game.”
Fairport jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter and led 24-13 at halftime.
Led by Cody Hunt, who missed the second quarter with four fouls, the Huskies rallied in the second half.
Hunt scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the third quarter as the Huskies battled back into the game.
“He didn’t play much in the second quarter but I put him in in the second half and he did an excellent job,” Cummins said.
The Huskies outscored the Skippers, 19-6, in the fourth quarter.
When the Skippers took a 49-46 lead with 30 seconds left they opted to foul Kaser rather than allow him to get off a potential game-tying 3-point shot. He hit both of the free throws to make it a one point game.
Cardinal’s press forced Fairport to attempt a full court inbounds pass.
“They ended up sending their big guy, Verlin Williams, down. They set double picks for him and he took off to the other end of the floor,” Cummins said. “They overthrew him so far the ball almost went out of bounds on the opposite baseline. He threw it back in and Luke Timas happened to be right there and he grabbed the ball. One of their kids ran right into him.”
That sent Timas to the line for a one-and-one.
He missed the shot but recovered his own rebound and immediately put up a shot. It went in but Cummins had called time out, negating what could have been the game winner.
“He’s going to the free throw line with seven seconds left, my freshman, and he misses the front end of the one-and-one,” Cummins said. “The ball bounced right back into his hands and he goes to shoot it but I didn’t know. I called time out right when he got the ball. He shot it and made it but I had called time out.”
The time out allowed Cardinal to set up the play that freed Tamburro to score the final basket of the game.
Kaser finished with 12 points and Tamburro added nine.
The Huskies close out the regular season with a 5-17 record. They open postseason play on Tuesday at Newton Falls.
“Ending on a positive note, we haven’t won since we beat Independence (on Jan. 13). That was our last win we had,” Cummins said. “I don’t care who we’re playing against, we needed to get a win. To be able to build on that is what we need to do playing against Newton Falls. They’re the No. 4 seed. It will be a tough game. They’re playing real well right now. We’re just going to look forward to going into that with a win and finishing off the regular season with a win.”