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Sideline Cancer team falls short in final moments

Courtesy photo Assistant coach Jordan Griffith and the Sideline Cancer team react during Tuesday night’s championship game.

From Mirror reports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Marcus Keene made a 3-pointer to give Sideline Cancer a lead in the Elam Ending of its championship contest against the Golden Eagles Tuesday, but Jamil Wilson and Travis Diener answered with a pair of treys to end the Hollidaysburg-based squad’s run just short of the $1 million prize, 78-73, in The Basketball Tournament.

“This is unbelievable. The last three years, we have been so close to a title,” Diener said in an ESPN interview after the game. “It was a tough game. They played so hard and made big shots. We were fortunate enough to make enough plays to win it.”

For the Golden Eagles, it was their first TBT title despite coming into the game with an 18-5 mark in the tournament’s history, the second-most wins by any squad.

The Marquette alumni team lost to Carmen’s Crew by three in last year’s championship game and played in the semifinals two years ago.

“We have been on the other end of that (in the Elam Ending) this last week and a half,” Sideline Cancer general manager Billy Clapper said. “You can see how fast it goes. I give our team a lot of credit. They made some runs. We made some runs, and they made the final run. Three-pointers are so dangerous in that Elam Ending. When Wilson made that first one, and then we didn’t score, that really put us in a tough situation.”

Sideline Cancer was playing in its first title game and had made it past the quarterfinals for the first time despite playing in all seven tournaments.

It came into Tuesday’s game winners of four straight games and as the No. 22 seed in the 24-team tournament. Sideline Cancer was the only team to make the semifinals that was forced to play a first-round game.

Sideline Cancer fell behind 8-0 to start the game before head coach Charlie Parker called a timeout with 6:32 to play in the first quarter.

“We weren’t ready to play at the start of the game,” Parker said to ESPN. “We have a group of guys that play with heart and energy. We just had to wake up and get a little feel. We knew they were going to put pressure on us throughout the game. At first, it had us out of whack, but once we adjusted to the pressure, we were OK.”

Most of that pressure was on Keene, who was a scoring machine at Central Michigan and came into Tuesday’s game leading Sideline Cancer in scoring. The Golden Eagles held Keene to just three points in regulation, a 3-pointer with 2:32 to play in the half that tied the game at 37.

With 1.6 seconds left before the break, Maurice Creek threw an inbounds pass off the back of a Golden Eagles defender and laid it in for a 44-43 Sideline Cancer.

The Golden Eagles responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second half to go up by five points. With 4:11 to play in the third quarter, Golden Eagles star Dwight Buycks picked up his fifth foul and exited the game until just before the Elam Ending with a team-high 15 points.

Sideline Cancer went up by as many as four points, and held a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter, before the Golden Eagles took a 70-66 lead on two Mo Charlo free throws with 5:24 to play.

But just as it had all tournament, Sideline Cancer fought back. Remy Abell tied the game at 70 on a 3-pointer just before the start of the Elam Ending, which meant the target score was 78 to determine a winner for the rest of the untimed game.

The Golden Eagles opened the scoring with a dunk off an inbounds pass, Keene followed with a 3-pointer and then the back-to-back 3-pointers by Wilson and Diener earned the Marquette alumni their first TBT crown.

“If you said there were 100 things, we could accomplish this year at TBT, we knocked off 99 of them other than winning the prize money,” Clapper said. “The only thing we didn’t get at the end of the day was the money, and in all honesty, that would be nice, but we didn’t do it for the money either. That’s not why we started this. It was to raise awareness.”

Darius Johnson-Odom, who finished with 15 points for the Golden Eagles, was named the player of the game.

Johnson-Odom, Wilson, Keene, Overseas Elite’s Joe Johnson, Red Scare’s Trey Landers, Golden Eagles coach Joe Chapman and Clapper, as the top GM, were named to the TBT All-Tournament Team.

Clapper was optimistic that Wednesday’s TBT finals appearance wouldn’t be Sideline Cancer’s last chance to win a title.

“Our eight guys were able to knock off teams with multiple ex-NBA guys,” Clapper said. “Overseas Elite came into our semifinal game with a 31-1 record in the TBT, and we knocked them off and gave them their second loss. That’s something to hang your hat on. I truly do believe that someday we will win this tournament. I really do believe that. There will be another run, and it could be as early as next year.

“The guys we have, nobody is in their 30s. Guys are in their primes, and I think the next step is bringing that core back and a couple more pieces. Hopefully, we’ll be right there.”

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