Sports

Sabres surge in overtime thriller

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

Simcoe Sabre Simon Storoschuk puts up a shot while being guarded by Holy Trinity's Parker Morris during the NSSAA senior basketball regular season finale Thursday. Storoschuk registered 19 points in a 64-63 overtime victory. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

Simcoe Sabre Simon Storoschuk puts up a shot while being guarded by Holy Trinity's Parker Morris during the NSSAA senior basketball regular season finale Thursday. Storoschuk registered 19 points in a 64-63 overtime victory. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

For the most important shot of the season, the Simcoe Sabres put their faith in Alex Forde and the big man delivered.

The centre affectionately known as “Big Al” received a pass from teammate Matt Lyons and hit a jumper with 3.5 seconds to play in overtime to give Simcoe a 64-63 victory against Holy Trinity in the NSSAA senior boys basketball regular season finale.

Forde was all smiles after the contest, and with good reason.

“I just saw the open space, I had to get there,” said Forde. “I called Matt for the ball and took the shot. I just knew we had to get the shot off.”

The Titans – top seeds in the league heading into Thursday’s contest – couldn’t have been blamed for keeping an eye on Lyons. The towering sharpshooter had just three points at the half but poured in 16 in the second and overtime.

“He was on fire so they probably thought he was going to put up a shot,” Forde said. “It left me open and they underestimated me.”

As excited as the Sabres were after the win, the Waterford Wolves likely cheered a little louder. Both the Wolves and Titans entered the day with just one loss but Waterford’s 67-29 win over Valley Heights pulled them into top spot in the league, which also equals home-court advantage in the Norfolk playoffs which begin Feb. 15.

That night, Waterford (1) will take on Delhi (4) while Holy Trinity (2) and Simcoe (3) clash once again.

Until Thursday, Simcoe hadn’t been able to top either Waterford or Holy Trinity but showed this is a much different team than the one that struggled through the season’s first half.

“I think it puts us on a high but we’re not going to get full of ourselves or anything – we’ve still got to work hard and bring the pressure to the game,” said Forde, adding the team’s new-found confidence began to percolate in practice.

“Our practices have been more intense lately so I think working hard at that has helped us in the game.”

Their second loss of the year means a difficult road to the NSSAA title for Holy Trinity, but the team can take some solace in the fact they showed great resilience. With a packed house due to a “buy-out” for charity, the Titans struggled to get much done and trailed by as many as 12 in the second half. The foursome of Devin Defreyne, DeShayne Holliday, Cole Feeney and Cole Robinson helped drag the Titans back within shouting distance, setting the stage for Defreyne to tie the score with a triple in the dying seconds of the fourth.

“It was definitely huge for us,” Robinson said of the comeback. “We were down in the fourth quarter by quite a bit and as a team, we came together and pushed our way back to make it a tie.”

Robinson, who chipped in with 10 points, said Holy Trinity was a little flustered playing before a sizable crowd. They’ll have to be ready for a similar atmosphere when the playoffs begin next week.

“I think we were just really hyped up to try and show our home crowd what we can do and got a little ahead of ourselves. As we settled down our game got better and we pulled it together,” he said.

“We’ve just got to play harder defence and make some shots.”

Simon Storoschuk tied Lyons with a game-high 19 points for the Sabres while Holliday led all Titans with 18.

jrobinson@postmedia.com