After a long spring break, the Cedarville University men’s intramural five-on-five basketball championship took place Wednesday night in the Callan Athletic Center, where the number-one overall seed, H1 and 1, defeated the second-seeded Pippen’s Boys, 41-29.
The two squads stood alone at the top, having barreled through the 26-team single elimination tournament which took place from February 16 to March 11. A crowd of over one hundred gathered to watch the best basketball the student body had to offer.
H1 and 1 was led by sophomore David McCoy, junior Salvatore Morrone, and former varsity player Sam Harris, while JV players Shane Williams and Byron Brown led Pippen’s Boys. The championship game was a rematch of a regular season meeting, where H1 got the victory, 49-44.
The road to the title game was arduous and competitive. After a first round bye, H1 and 1 defeated the 17-seed Soh-Cah-Toa Nation by 20. They got all they could handle from the zone defense of ninth-seeded Aloha Snackbar, but they pulled away in the second half to avoid the upset, 42-35.
Their semi-final game was one for the ages. In a triple overtime thriller, H1 and 1 took down the Wolfpack squad, led by Cedarville varsity alumni Zachery Brown and Brandon Sok. The Wolfpack, a compilation of varsity basketball affiliates, were on the brink of elimination when “B-Sok” ignited the crowd with a 30-foot prayer to send the game to overtime. After two tense periods, H1 and 1 attacked the paint and finished off the Wolfpack, 40-37.
On the other side of the bracket, Pippen’s Boys crushed the 18-seed Jaden’s Boys 64-35, then played a more competitive game against the Short Bus Rejects squad, winning 54-40. Led by Shane Williams and Byron Brown, Pippen’s Boys had a thriller of their own in the other semi-final, beating the upstart Still Young squad. After a surge late in the game, Brown hit a big shot with three seconds left to send his team to the 34-32 victory and the championship game.
McCoy took over early. In the early minutes he had 10 points, surging his team to an 18-6 lead. H1 slowed the game down, which helped their offense, as Harris and McCoy fed off each other’s drives and screens. Pippen’s Boys had a highly potent offensive attack throughout the season, but bogged down when the game lost pace. H1 and 1, behind McCoy’s scoring and an overall size advantage, led 19-11 at halftime.
At half, Williams and Brown said they believed Pippen’s Boys needed to be better on both ends. Brown said they needed to box out more on defense and have better movement on offense.
“We need to talk better on ball screens up top, and have someone in the paint (on defense),” Williams said. “If no one’s there, it’s a layup every time.”
In H1 and 1’s corner, Vinny Morrone, a crowd favorite, said he was loving his team’s defensive effort.
“Defense. Defense is gonna win this game,” he said. “It won the first half and it will win us the second.”
In the second half, the game picked up pace. Brown and Williams began getting the ball out in transition and getting into the paint. O’Malley had his hands full with H1 and 1’s huge frontline, but that didn’t keep him from stuffing the stat sheet. He had four blocks at halftime, and when asked about this, O’Malley responded, “I’m gonna equal that.”
O’Malley turned out to be a man of his word, finishing the game with eight blocks. Jon Adams and David Tucker came off the bench and also battled the huge H1 and 1 squad. Adams had four rebounds and two steals, while Tucker also had four rebounds, a steal and a tough lay-up.
H1 and 1 was in a groove, however, winning the rebounding battle in second half. Harris, McCoy and Alex Carter grabbed six each, while John Campbell had four and Josh Thifault had three. Despite nine points from Brown and Williams, Pippen’s Boys could not cut down the lead. H1 ran the clock down and the celebration began.
McCoy was the MVP of the game, leading all scorers with 16 points. Harris added 11 while Campbell scored six. Byron Brown played well in the losing effort, scoring nine points while grabbing five rebounds and three steals despite playing the entire game. O’Malley flirted with a triple-double, racking up seven points, seven rebounds and the aforementioned eight blocks.
When the buzzer sounded, McCoy and Thifault savored the win. McCoy said the win was a team effort. Thifault was equally pleased, this being his final year, and he offered some guidance for younger players.
“This is my fourth year of five-on-five, and it feels great to win,” he said. “I’ve been to the semi-finals, the finals, but it’s all about getting with people who are better than you, that’s the advice I have for all the young bloods out there.”
Dave Guidone is a junior social studies education major and sports reporter for Cedars. His hobbies include eating, snacking, shooting hoops and laughing. Hebrews 13:8.