ROCKY RIVER — It wasn’t over until it was over and even then it wasn’t over.
Lutheran West had forced Columbia’s Jay Banyasz into a turnover and sat on the ball as the clock ran out Friday night, but after a long conference the referees concluded someone on the Longhorns called a timeout. Three seconds were put back on the clock and Greg Kunze iced the Longhorns’ 54-51 victory with a free throw.
The win gives Lutheran West control of its own destiny in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division race. At 12-3 in the league, 17-4 overall, Lutheran West only needs to beat Black River tonight to clinch the Stripes Division outright.
Columbia enters the sectional tournament at 17-5. It would need Lutheran West to lose today in order to grab a piece of the Stripes Division with its 12-4 record.
“We’ve got a lot of good teams in our conference and we don’t look down on anyone,” Kunze said. “Columbia was our priority coming in, but we know Black River has some players and they’re a
well-coached team. We’re going to come out (today) with the same intensity as we did tonight. Those nets are still up there, we’re waiting until (today) to cut those down.”
After trailing by as much as 10 points in the first half, Columbia took its first lead of the game,
28-26, at the 4:40 mark of the third quarter off back-to-back 3-pointers from Brandon Severo. The Raiders promptly lost the lead when Andrew O’Hara answered with a three on the next possession.
“We knew coming into the game they were going to make big runs, but we just had to pull through and focus on our game as much as we can,” O’Hara said.
That turned out to be Columbia’s only lead of the night, but it did tie the Longhorns at 38 with 6:32 left after Kunze picked up a technical foul and David Delahunty hit both free throws.
Then O’Hara took over, scoring seven of the Longhorns’ next nine points to give them a 47-42 lead. He scored 10 of Lutheran West’s 18 fourth-quarter points and finished with 17.
“Andrew has come up big for us in a lot of games,” said Lutheran West coach Alan Januzzi. “He stepped up big and that takes a lot of confidence, poised and composure. He was vocal and a great leader and when we needed him he came through.”
The Raiders made one final push down 52-48. Delahunty drained a 3-pointer and then the Raiders picked off Peter Koza on the inbounds play. Columbia’s Kevin Simon couldn’t convert the layup, but was fouled and had a chance to give Columbia the lead or at least tie the game.
He missed both free throws.
“I don’t want to pinpoint it on that,” Columbia coach Larry Babics said. “I think what hurt us tonight was the fact that that first quarter was 14-4. We were kind of playing catch up, we got a lead but we were always one basket away from being able to control things a little bit.”
The Raiders fouled Aaron Beckman, who split a one-and-one, he finished with 11 points. The Raiders had a chance with 16 seconds left, but Banyasz couldn’t get off a shot and Longhorns held on.
Delahunty led all scorers with 23 points and added a game-high 10 rebounds — eight of them on the offensive end. Banyasz was the only other player for Columbia in double figures with 10 points.
“I just came out and executed,” Delahunty said. “I just tried to do the best I can, but we couldn’t pull it out in the end. We’re just going to move on and look ahead to the tournament.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Lutheran West 54, Columbia 51
COLUMBIA (51): Jay Banyasz 4-2-10, David Delahunty 8-5-23, Kevin Simon 2-3-7, Michael Boey 1-0-3, Brandon Severo 2-2-8, Brian Hershey 0-0-0, Brandon Heidecker 0-0-0. Totals: 17-12-51.
LUTHERAN WEST (54): Greg Kunze 6-3-18, Aaron Beckman 4-3-11, Andrew O’Hara 6-3-17, Chris Scott 2-0-4, Peter Koza 0-2-2, Max Quinn 1-0-2, Clay Carper 0-0-0, Jack Kelsheimer 0-0-0, Joe Peters 0-0-0. Totals: 19-11-54.
Columbia 4 13 14 20 — 51
Lutheran West 14 10 12 18 — 54
Three-point goals: Columbia 5-21 (Delahunty 2, Severo 2, Boey), Lutheran West 5-10 (Kunze 3, O’Hara 2). Field goals: Columbia 17-48 (35 percent), Lutheran West 19-40 (48 percent). Free throws: Columbia 12-17 (71 percent), Lutheran West 11-17 (65 percent). Rebounds: Columbia 29 (Delahunty 10), Lutheran West 16 (Kunze 4). Total fouls: Columbia 16, Lutheran West 16. Technical fouls: Kunze. Turnovers: Columbia 10, Lutheran West 8.