With double overtime in the Banterra Bank Southern Indiana Athletic Conference Championship, the Castle Knights took away the trophy against the Bosse Bulldogs in the nail-biting championship game, scoring 78-75.
The Knights played a defensivley aggressive North on Friday night at home and pulled out a win after trailing six points in the first quarter.
“I thought they hit us with a knock-out punch, and we were staggered,” said Castle head coach Brian Gibson. “It would have been real easy for our guys to fold, but they didn’t. They kept battling. Nothing came easy tonight. This has a sectional atmosphere. This was a sectional type game where every possession was a fight. Our guys were up to the challenge, and I was really pleased to see that.”
Coming off a win against North on Friday with four players in double figures, the Knights came to battle the Bulldogs Saturday night. In an upset at the start of the tournament, Bosse defeated the Reitz Panthers on Wednesday and the Central Bears on Friday, bringing them to face-off against Castle.
Throughout the first three quarters, Castle led in scoring with the Bulldogs continuously nipping at their heels. Starting the fourth quarter, Castle led the Bulldogs, 47-44, but Bosse came to play.
While Castle only led with one point with 30 seconds in the fourth quarter, Brandon Eades scored two points with a layup from the left side, increasing the Knights lead to three. But the Bulldogs continued to battle, scoring 14 points to Castle’s 11 in the fourth quarter. Mekhi Lairy scored nine points in the fourth quarter alone, and scoring a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the game, Jaidon Hunter evened the score to 58-58, forcing the game into overtime.
Toward the very end of the heated fourth quarter, junior Jack Nunge and freshman Alex Hemenway knocked heads, while Nunge tried to gain offensive possession. With both bleeding and holding their heads, the two Castle players were escorted to the locker room to patch up the cuts. Though Hemenway did not return, Nunge was not going to allow the cut above his right eye to keep him out of the game.
“There was no way I wasn’t coming back in,” said Nunge. “I was telling our trainer to fix it quickly so I could get back in as soon as possible.”
“He wanted to be there for his teammates,” said Gibson.
At the beginning of the first overtime, Lairy scored two points, giving the Bulldogs their first lead since the first half with the score 60-58. Lairy forced the second overtime, scoring a 2-pointer with 13 seconds left on the clock. But Bosse was unable to pull ahead in the second overtime. Castle gained the early lead with five points, and Bosse was within two points of their score. Scoring 30 points total, Nunge scored nine points in both overtime periods, while Eades contributed 19 points for the Knights.
“I thought we won it eight times tonight,” said Gibson. “Bosse just kept coming back. They’ve got a tremendous basketball team, but our guys were warriors. Whatever adversity we had, we kept coming through it.”
For the second time in the last three years, the Knights won the SIAC tournament.This Friday, the Knights play Vincennes homecoming.