From the tip off those on hand knew they were going to be treated to some hardwood magic. Both teams came out on fire hitting the first four shots that were taken.
The first half belonged to Brother Rice which took a 17 point lead at one point only to see Bloom cut it down to four thanks to some gritty defense and team hustle.
The Crusaders then built the lead back up to ten as the teams went into the locker room at halftime with a 54-44 score.
It appeared as if Brother Rice’s long range sharp shooting would be too much for Bloom to keep up with. Then the third quarter began and the Trojans came out with guns blazing.
Led by Antonio Cool’s scoring burst, the Trojans dominated the third period and stormed back into the lead.
Seems that the halftime line up adjustments by coaches Gary Meyer and Dwyane Wade were exactly what Bloom needed. They outscored Brother Rice 30-15 and managed to turn a ten point deficit into a five point lead.
This set up what would be an exciting back and forth final ten minutes.
Brother Rice’s Ray Jendra ignited a fourth quarter scoring barrage that would put the Crusaders back into the lead. Jendra went 4 for 4 from the field and 3 for 3 from the charity stripe in the final period.
With 33 seconds left in the game Brother Rice held a two point lead. That means that after ten years and 71 minutes of basketball played these two rivals were still tied on the score board.
It looked as though this one would end up being decided on a buzzer beater just like it had a decade earlier.
Alas this time the ending wouldn’t be quite as dramatic. Though it was much more enjoyable for both teams and their fans.
After point guard Vince Greene hit a pair of late free throws the 99-93 victory had been sealed and with it a redemption that should ease the pain that Brother Rice players held onto ever since their memorable match in 2000.
Brother Rice Coach Pat Richardson said “for our guys to be up and then get down I thought we showed a lot of character but the reason we lost the lead is that Bloom is just a really good team.”
As soon as the final buzzer went off Brother Rice fans stormed the court. Then both teams met up at half court for the trophy presentation. After honorary Commissioner Carlos Boozer handed the award the place turned into a virtual love fest as players from both teams were seen embracing one another along with family members and friends.
Sidney Holmes who finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds was named the games MVP but there were other heroes for Brother Rice as well. Mark Telander in particular was very productive for the Crusaders. He hit several big three point shots and finished with 17 points to go along with six boards.
Bloom was led by Joe Chapman and his game high 25 points along with Cool’s 24. Devon Green, Aaron Austin and Phillip Alexander contributed 11, 9 and 8 points as well for the Blazing Trojans.
This article can never capture just how energetic the crowd was from start to finish. Fans from both teams were cheering every basket, rebound, and steal.
Nor will this article ever accurately describe the energy that was pulsating inside the tiny St.Xavier University arena that evening.
The vibe was so all consuming that even NBA “Super Stars” Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard could be seen pounding on the court, screaming for defense and acting as though this game meant as much to them as it did for all those directly involved.
Both Wade and Howard even came close to getting called for technical fouls on separate occasions.
Wade said “it’s basketball and I’m a fan of the game . It was a very good game that went back and forth and I was very into it.”
Wade and Howard will have their share of exciting games when the NBA season tips off in late October but this stage and spot light was reserved for the participants from both teams.
The players were jumping and diving for every loose ball. There was some pushing and shoving and bodies were hitting the floor all over the court.
This may have very well been one of the most competitive games that will occur this year in any sport and it was a game waged by a bunch of “Joe Nobodies.”
For this Gatorade and their REPLAY series should be applauded. They put together an instant classic and did so because of their vision and efforts. The Gatorade Sports Institute staff did a wonderful job of getting these guys into playing shape during an eight week training and nutrition program.
Dwight Howard said “The guys were really good, I was happy to see that after eight weeks of training the guys played their hardest and let everything out tonight. It was a great [game] to see.”
The game just like the first contest in 2000 could have gone either way.
Bloom may have held off playing their best players a little too much in the first half and that may have contributed to their inability to win this contest.
Coach Meyer said “Because these [men] had gone through two months of intensive training as a staff we made a decision that everyone was going to play in the first half and get quality minutes. Looking back in retrospect we probably fell a little too far behind.”
“At halftime we decided to go with the guys that we trusted were in shape and could play the best for us. If you look at the score sheet for the second half we won it but were too far behind.”
Despite Wade trying to run off with the championship trophy this game wasn’t all about who won and lost. It was about a chance to relive the glory days of many nine to five guys who had long since given up on their playing careers.
Telander summed it up best in the post game conference by saying “basically just being able to comeback together with our teammates and reunite with them and our coaching staff was great. We were here with all our family and friends just to experience this. That’s what this whole thing is [about]. Win or lose both teams played an unbelievable game and this atmosphere; we could have never ever guessed that we’d be a part of something like this. Even now we’re sitting up here with two of the best players in the NBA this is like a dream.”
Cheers to Gatorade and their REPLAY series for delivering the goods in a game that any sports enthusiast would have loved to either be a part of or witness.
In November, the one-hour documentary Gatorade REPLAY 3: Bloom vs. Brother Rice will air nationally on FOX Sports Net.