Eagles soar in final seconds over Marian

CMA's Eagles took their second consecutive sectional title on Saturday night
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

In a game that saw a 20-point swing, it was only fitting that it would be decided in the final seconds. Make that the final .2 seconds.
Thanks to a clutch free throw by Deontae Craig – after an improbable offensive rebound and put back attempt – No. 4 Culver Academy overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat No. 6 Mishawaka Marian, 48-47, to win the Class 3A Sectional 19 championship at South Bend Washington HS in dramatic fashion. 
“I was a little nervous, especially after the first one went in and out,” said Craig, who before his game-winning foul shot attempts was 8-for-9 from the line. “But in the huddle before, Coach just said stick to my mechanics and that’s I went back to. I found my rhythm, focused on the rim, and knocked it in.”
Craig’s heroics send the Knights (21-4) into the offseason and the Eagles (18-6) to the LaPorte Regional where they will play 16th-ranked Hammond (19-5) in the first game of the LaPorte Regional on Saturday, March 10. Tip-off is 11 a.m. EST. Also in the field are No. 9 West Lafayette (21-4) and Calumet New Tech (14-10). 
Less than 24 hours after playing one of its most complete games of the season (a 72-44 drubbing of South Bend Saint Joseph in the semifinals), the Academy came out smoking against Marian, scoring the first nine points of the game and led 13-3 late in the first quarter.
The Knights were struggling from the field (5-of-15 first half), but behind an 8-for-8 effort from the charity stripe was able to close to within two, 21-19, by the break however.
Marian tied the score to open the third quarter, then a Jaden Ivey breakaway dunk highlighted an 8-0 run that was finally stopped by Trey Galloway when he hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer. The Knights finished their 21-point quarter on a fallaway 3 by Michael Hemingway at the buzzer to take a 40-32 lead into the final period and had all of the momentum. 
After a Zach Lattimer 3 and a Hemingway free throw (11-14 FTs for the game), the Eagles found themselves down 44-34 with 6:36 remaining in the game and were in serious trouble. 
“When we got down 10 and we switched some things on defense,” said Culver Academy head coach Mark Galloway, whose squad defeated Marian by six earlier in the season. “They are hard to guard once they got going. We had to figure out what match-ups were going to be the best and finally got it figured out in the fourth quarter.” 
One noticeable change was the 6-foot-4 Trey Galloway was now guarding the quick, but 5-10 Hemingway and his length seemed to give him some problems. This switch put Johnny Cohen and his four fouls on Lattimer and the junior guard did not allow a bucket the final seven minutes. In fact, Marian scored only seven points the entire quarter, and only four points the final 6:36 – all on foul shots. 
“Our defense was huge,” Galloway added. “We’ve been saying all week – all season really – that it’s not going to be easy (winning sectionals). They are not going to hand it to you. We won it last year and they want to win it too. They’ve got 21 wins and are a very good team.” 
Meanwhile, the Eagles were chipping away. Two straight baskets by Galloway cut it to 45-39. A three-point play by Craig made it a three point game with 3:54 left and Ethan Brittain-Watts’ 3 tied it at 45-all at the 3:03 mark. 
“To have the confidence to take it and to have teammates confident that he’ll knock that down, that’s huge,” Coach Galloway said of Brittain-Watts’ shot.
After a Marian turnover, Amari Curtis scored inside for the Eagles, then two Hemingway free throws tied it again at 47 with 1:55 on the clock. From there, the Academy held the ball, calling timeout with 57.9 seconds showing.
“If they went man, we were going to go early. If they went zone, we were going to go for the last shot,” said Galloway of the last-minute plan. “We battled back. We did not want them to get the ball again. The plan was to get Ethan off a ball screen and if we shoot it, we’ve got to get on the glass.”
Marian stayed in their 2-3 zone and the Eagles were content to work for the last shot. With about 10 seconds left, the first option was not there and the ball eventually made it to Trey Galloway behind the 3-point arc on the wing. He let fly an off-balance shot with just a couple of ticks left. The shot was short, but Craig was there and somehow was able to get the ball back up toward the basket, getting fouled on the put-back attempt.
“That was part of the play,” Craig said. “They just told me to go to the block (when we shot) and get the offensive rebound. That’s what I did. Then I got the ball to the rim and that’s all.” 
That wasn’t quite all, yet. Marian called timeout to ice Craig before his first of two free throws and it worked. The first offering looked good, but rolled out. The noise level from the Knights’ fans went up exponentially, but Craig calmly hit nothing but net on the second shot. With :00.2 showing on the clock, all Marian could do was throw the ball inbounds, but could not get a shot off in that time, setting off the Eagles’ celebration. 
Craig finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. He went 9-for-11 from the line and the team was 14-of-17. Marian was 19-of-24 on free throws, but only 12-of-27 from the field. 
At Class 3A South Bend Washington
Cul. Acad. 13 8 11 16 – 48
Marian 6 13 21 7 – 47
CULVER ACADEMY (48): Henry Zehner 0 0-0 0, Ethan Brittain-Watts 3 0-0 8, Johnny Cohen 0 0-0 0, Jordon Freeman 0 0-0 0, Deontae Craig 6 9-11 21, Amari Curtis 1 0-0 2, Trey Galloway 3 5-6 12, Nick Hittle 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 15 14-17 48.
MARIAN (47): Kyron King 0 0-2 0, Coley Quinn 1 0-0 2, Michael Hemingway 4 11-14 20, Zach Lattimer 4 2-2 12, Jaden Ivey 2 2-2 7, RJ Decker 1 4-4 6, Jacob Bishop 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 12 19-24 47.
3-pointers: Culver Academy 4 (Brittain-Watts 2, Cohen, Galloway), Marian 4 (Lattimer 2, Hemingway, Ivey). Fouls (fouled out): Culver Academy 19 (none), Marian 17 (none). Rebounds: Culver Academy 22, Marian 10
Records: Culver Academy 18-6, Marian 21-4 (final)