With Newman down one and less than 10 seconds remaining in overtime, the Greenies knew the ball had to find its way into Peter Drennan’s hands.
Despite John Ehret’s best efforts to prevent it, Drennan got the ball and buried two free throws in the final second of the game to seal a 38-37 overtime victory for the Greenies (4-5) over the Patriots (8-4) in the quarterfinals of the Newman Invitational Tournament on Thursday night.
Ehret guard Coi Gaines knocked down two free throws to give the Patriots a 37-36 lead with less than 10 seconds left in overtime, but Drennan found a way to race around two John Ehret defenders just to get the ball, then drove to the lane and was fouled, sending the senior guard to the line with 0.7 seconds left.
“I think it all started with stops. We started doing some good things on the defensive end,” Newman coach Jimmy Tillette said. “We had some back-cut plays and Peter made two big free throws. I thought our kids took care of the ball and did a good job of handling their pressure.”
Drennan followed his 28-point performance in Wednesday’s 58-34 opening-round victory over McMain with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and added three rebounds and two steals. No other Newman player scored more than six points.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Drennan said of how he felt when he stepped to the line for the potential game-winning free throws. “I was shaking — nerves were getting to me — but I knew if I took my time and followed through I would get it in.”
Newman held the ball for almost the entire final 1:30 of the fourth quarter to ensure it got the final shot, but an errant pass that was intended for Drennan was stolen by Ehret guard Joshua Wyatt and he was fouled, which gave the Patriots a chance for a buzzer-beating shot to win the game. Ehret guard Anthony McGhee took a contested 3-pointer, but it fell short and the game went into overtime.
“You’re either highly spirited or low-spirited after a long possession,” Tillette said. “If you’re on defense and you get a stop, you’re ecstatic. If you’re on defense and they score, it can be deflating. That’s just the style we like to play and it allows us to get good shots every time down.”
Ehret got off to a hot shooting start to begin the third quarter and took advantage of several sloppy Newman turnovers to go on a 13-2 run and grew their lead out to 26-17 at one point. McGhee scored seven of the Patriots’ points during their run and went 3-for-4 from the field during the quarter after shooting 2–of-6 in the first half.
Newman responded with a 12-3 run of its own that extended from the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth and ended with a 3-pointer by Newman guard Cass Lapeyre that tied the game at 29 early in the fourth quarter.
“We came out kind of slow and sluggish (to start the second half),” Drennan said. “Then we got a couple big shots from some people, got some stops and we started getting close.”
McGhee paced Ehret’s scoring efforts with 17 points (12 in the second half) on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.
Newman plays East St. John in the semifinals of the Newman Invitational at Newman at 6:30 p.m. Friday.