DeLaSalle's Geno Crandall swats away a shot by St. Rita's Treston Forbes as the Islanders pulled away in the final minutes for a 59-53 win during action at the Timberwolves Shootout on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Photo by Brian W Nelson
This would have been a good win for DeLaSalle even if 6-foot-8 star Reid Travis had played for the Islanders against an incredibly athletic St. Rita team from Illinois.
Travis warmed up for the first time this season, bringing excitement to those in the crowd unsure if the Stanford University-commit would be seen running the floor. Ultimately, Travis was held out of action once again, but that would be nothing Sacar Anim and the rest of the team couldn't handle.
Anim almost single-handedly put the team on his back offensively, shooting 9-for-12 from the field and 11-for-12 from the free throw line to score 29 points. Anim's production kept DeLaSalle in the lead for most of the game with Jarvis Johnson having an off-game (1-for-6 from the floor, four points).
Although Anim's huge game gave DeLaSalle a reason to smile, it was the collective defensive effort that brought home the win for the Islanders.
The Islanders' defense was so ferocious it forced St. Rita to make an incredible 17 first-half turnovers and 25 in all.
St. Rita found itself in a hole as the first half progressed, down by as much as 13 and unable to close the gap. Treston Forbes would hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Mustangs within 10 at the half, 25-15.
DeLaSalle head coach Dave Thorson's passion for the game may be second-to-none when his Islanders are in action. Despite the lead and impressive first-half performance, Thorson could be heard from the hallway outside the locker room while he loudly encouraged his team to improve its effort in the second half.
Thorson would remain vocal for the rest of the game as the tension between the two built.
"How come it doesn't work for me?!" Thorson would shout at the refs on pleading for calls.
St. Rita came out of the half with an explosive effort, slowly cutting into DeLaSalle's lead until they were tied at 38 with just under 10:00 to play in the game. The Mustangs would take a three point lead less than two minutes later as the two teams would trade blows for the remainder of the game.
The Mustangs were kept in the game by the Matthews brothers, as Dominique put up 17 points, four rebounds and three steals while Charles added another 11 points and seven rebounds. Unfortunately for St. Rita, the two combining for 13 turnovers would also be a detriment to the team.
While DeLaSalle turned the ball over 19 times of their own, the Islanders' 22-30 shooting from the charity stripe played a big part in putting St. Rita away at the end of the game.
Senior guard Geno Crandall added 13 points and five rebounds for the Islanders.
-- Nick Allen
DeLaSalle's Sacar Anim and James Lawson work together to force a late game steal and easy layup for Lawson helping the Islanders pull away for the win. Photo by Brian W Nelson