INDIANAPOLIS — It had been 12 long days since the Crispus Attucks basketball team took the court for a game. Last seen, the Tigers were watching Manual celebrate a last-second shot by Courvoisier McCauley in the City tournament semifinals at Tech.
“I think I’ve watched it, oh, about 3,000 times,” first-year Attucks coach Chris Hawkins said.
It was time, past time, for Attucks to get back to business. The Tigers notched arguably their best win of the season on Thursday, defeating visiting Class 3A eighth-ranked Brebeuf Jesuit 69-66.
It was an impressive closing kick by Attucks (11-4), which finished off the Braves with an 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter. A blocked shot by Nike Sibande and ensuing layup by Teyon Scanlan gave Attucks a 61-60 lead with 1:40 left, and Scanlan’s three-point play a minute later pushed the lead to five.
Attucks had been 1-4 in games decided by five points or less.
“Our kids have been in that situation before this season,” Hawkins said. “Nike and a couple others seniors were in the huddle saying, ‘We’ve been in this situation, let’s finish the game.’ We hit some big shots and it finally went our way once this season.”
Sibande, a 6-4 senior, scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to lead Attucks. His offense in the third quarter (with 12 of his team’s 17 points) kept the Tigers in the game.
“My teammates were trusting me and relying on me to play hard and have a good second half,” Sibande said. “I really feel like we’re playing well as a team right now.”
The close games against Manual and Brebeuf offer a tantalizing preview Class 3A Sectional 27, where all three teams reside. The Braves (10-5), who had lost only to 4A teams coming into Thursday’s game, led 60-57 after a basket by Brennan Fitzgerald with 2:56 left.
Brebeuf wouldn’t score again until Malachi Rice’s spinning layup cut the Attucks’ lead to 65-62 with 27 seconds left. The Tigers then went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to put it away.
“(Attucks) converted our turnovers late into points,” Brebeuf coach Todd Howard said. “Not only were they getting extra possessions but it’s compounded. Those swings can turn a game. But I told our guys we haven’t really played like that. We knew they were a good team and we knew it’d be tough. We’ve played a daunting schedule.”
Rice, a senior guard, led the Braves with 18 points. Myja White was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line and had 13 points, and the 6-5 Fitzgerald added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Alex Cooley scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for Attucks, and Scanlan added 14.
“(Cooley) came out to play in the fourth quarter,” Sibande said. “He had a rough start to the second half, but he helped a lot. He’s our point guard and we expect that from him.”
As much as Attucks wanted a shot at its first City tournament title since 1962, Thursday’s win may allow the Tigers to move past that Manual game. There’s more out there on the horizon for this Attucks team, though a brutal sectional awaits in a month.
“God answered a prayer for (Manual),” Sibande said. “I’m not hating on the shot. It was a good shot. It was a really good game. But I don’t think it would happen again.”
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.
CRISPUS ATTUCKS 69, BREBEUF JESUIT 66
Brebeuf Jesuit 15 12 18 21 – 66
Crispus Attucks 10 19 17 23 – 69
Brebeuf Jesuit (10-5) – Rice 5 8-10 18, Reist 2 0-0 6, White 4 2-2 13, Fitzgerald 4 2-2 12, Banks 5 0-0 11, McNeal 3 0-1 6. Totals: 23 12-15 63.
Crispus Attucks (11-4) – Scanlan 5 3-3 14, Cooley 5 3-3 15, Harris 0 3-4 3, Sibande 7 8-9 26, Owens 3 1-2 8, Briscoe 1 1-2 3. Totals: 21 19-23 69.
3-point goals: Brebeuf Jesuit 8 (White 3, Fitzgerald 2, Reist 2, Banks), Crispus Attucks 8 (Sibande 4, Cooley 2, Scanlan, Owens).