COLUMBUS -- North Bend made its first 12 free throws of the game Thursday in the C1-7 subdistrict final at Columbus High School, but just when the top-seeded Tigers had a chance to put the game away at the line, they opened the door for second-seeded David City Aquinas.
North Bend (22-3) went just 1 for 5 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, the last miss giving Aquinas the ball with 6.6 seconds left in the game with the Monarchs trailing 58-57.
With the Tigers focused on taking away Telegram Super Senior Tyler Vavrina, who torched North Bend all night with a game-high 24 points, junior Zach Zavodny was left with a straight-line drive to the rim.
His shot over a pair of North Bend defenders came up just short and the Tigers, ranked 10th in Class C-1, held on for a 59-57 victory.
“We had a great look at the rim,” Aquinas head coach Kyle Eller said. “Everything kind of opened up for Zach and sometimes you can miss by an inch or two.”
It’s the third straight season North Bend has ended the Monarchs season in the subdistrict tournament.
“I told the kids to go to war for four quarters and that’s what these games are like. They’re battles,” the coach added.
This one was a battle to remembers as Aquinas knocked down eight 3-pointers, only to be outdone by the Tigers' 10 made treys.
Both teams showed a little nerves early on and it led to some sloppy play and turnovers in the first few minutes as both sides tried to settle in.
It didn't take long for Vavrina to find his rhythm with eight first-quarter points to go along with two steals and he also drew a charge in the opening period.
It was North Bend, however, that took a 12-11 lead into the second quarter. The Tigers led by as much as four in the period, but, as was the theme of the game, Aquinas had the answer and Vavrina led the way.
Trailing 21-17, Vavrina nailed a 3-pointer, one of five on the night for the 6-foot-2 senior, then found Daniel Reiter inside for an easy bucket to give the Monarchs a 22-21 lead.
Aquinas looked like it would carry a 29-27 lead into the half, until North Bend’s John Emanuel capped off a brilliant second quarter by banking in a desperation heave off the side of the backboard while falling out of bounds to give the Tigers a 30-29 lead at the break.
Emanuel, who matched Vavrina shot for shot on the night, scored 14 of his 24 points in the second quarter including the final 12 of the half for North Bend.
Vavrina picked up right where he left off in the first half with five quick points in the third quarter to give Aquinas a 36-32 lead.
North Bend ended the quarter on a 9-2 run, then scored the first five points of the fourth period to open up its biggest lead of the game, 46-38.
But the Monarchs had the answer again.
“Every time it was to the point where it might be out of reach, we hit a bucket to pull us back,” Eller said. “They just kept fighting.”
Aquinas scored the next five points to make it a one-possession game again only for the Tigers to extend its lead back to eight, 51-43.
Three 3-pointers in the closing minutes pulled the Monarchs close, and North Bend gave Aquinas a chance at the end, but the last shot fell short.
“It was a really fun game to be a part of, unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it,” Eller said.
This was the first senior class that Eller coached from freshman to seniors and he couldn’t have asked for a better group, led by Vavrina.
“He’s a do-it-all kid for us,” Eller said. “He’s meant everything to this program. If there’s a spark in this program, it’s because of him. He was always the first one in the gym and the last one out of the gym.”
This group -- Vavrina, Matthew Nadrchal, Gavin Rech, Daniel Reiter and Kyle Ruth -- will always be special to the head coach.
“There’s a lot more memories I have with these kids,” Eller added. “It hasn’t always been easy, there’s been ups and downs, but they stuck it out and decided to be the core unit as seniors.”
COLUMBUS -- Scotus Central Catholic beat David City Aquinas last week in both teams’ regular season finales, but it was the Monarchs who got the last laugh.
The Shamrocks couldn’t solve Aquinas’ 1-3-1 defense on Feb. 20 in a semifinal game of the C1-7 subdistrict tournament at Columbus High School as the Monarchs pulled away in the second half for a 42-25 victory.
“We didn’t attack it very well,” Scotus head coach Tyler Swanson said.
The 25 points was a season low for the Shamrocks.
Scotus trailed by only one at halftime, but scored just six points in the second half, all by Telegram Super Senior Trevor Kaslon.
“It’s subdistrict time so it’s going to be more physical than it is throughout the year. It’s not that we hadn’t seen that throughout the year, but you have to go up strong,” the head coach added.
Scotus’ defense kept it in the game until the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jack Jakub, his only points of the game, extended the Monarch’s lead to 32-22. The Shamrocks were never able to threaten again.
The first four minutes of the game were a far cry from the rest of the contest. Both teams were off and running. Telegram Super Senior Tyler Vavrina for Aquinas and Caden Pelan for Scotus both swished treys in the opening minutes as the teams were knotted at 9-all midway through the first period.
Then everything slowed way down.
Aquinas led 12-11 after the first quarter and 20-19 at half.
Kaslon opened the third quarter with a bucket, but the Shamrocks only managed one point the rest of the period, coming on a free throw by Kaslon, who finished with a game-high 14 points.
It was the same story for the Shamrocks in the fourth quarter. A basket and one free throw by the 6-foot-6 senior was all they could muster as Scotus watched Aquinas distance itself.
Vavrina finshed with a team-high 11 points for Aquinas.