BANGOR – Alex Means didn’t have much time to think as he tracked down the basketball in the final seconds of John Bapst’s game with Bangor on Saturday night.
There was only time for a choice – a long jumper, or a baseline drive to the basket.
His instinct suggested he had time to drive, and it was right, as Means made a layup with less than a second to play as John Bapst rallied from a late eight-point deficit to stun the host Rams 52-51 at Red Barry Gymnasium.
“I had no idea how much time there was,” said Means, a senior guard who scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the final two minutes. “I just tried to take it hard to the basket and hopefully I had enough time to make the shot.”
John Bapst gained its final possession from the baseline with 9.9 seconds left, after Brian Roach made a 3-pointer from the top of the key to draw the Crusaders within 51-50 and Bangor threw the ball away on a subsequent length-of-the-court inbounds pass.
Bangor’s defense initially came up big, as P.J. Dowe deflected the Bapst inbounds pass out of bounds along the left sideline.
Bapst’s Brandon Freeman (12 points) then made a successful inbounds pass, and teammate Dan Myerowitz seemingly had a path to the basket but opted to pass to teammate Tyler Yeo along the right side of the lane. Bangor’s Mike Prentiss deflected the pass to the right corner, where Means picked it up with about four seconds left.
Means hesitated for a split second, then drove to the basket, laying the ball in as time expired.
“Alex did a good job getting to the corner and picking the ball up,” said John Bapst coach Jason Mills. “I thought he was going to shoot it. I don’t know if he knew how much time was left, but he put it on the floor and went baseline and scored and Bangor didn’t have any time left to set something up.
“That’s a big win for us coming off the Brewer game [a nine-point loss Tuesday] when we didn’t play well. This is a great comeback win.”
The game typified the low-scoring, early season parity within the Big East Conference Class A ranks. John Bapst is now 2-2, with three of its games one-point decisions. Bangor suffered its second one-point loss, and is 1-3.
“Every team in this division is pretty equal,” Means said. “Every night you know you’re going to have a tough game, and we just hope we get the one-point wins every time.”
Bangor outscored John Bapst 11-2 midway through the fourth quarter to take a 47-39 lead into the game’s final two minutes. That run was fueled almost exclusively by junior Aaron Gallant, who scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the final period, including a three-point play off a drive to the basket to give the Rams that eight-point cushion.
Means scored on a drive with 1:50 left to end a 3:47 scoreless drought by John Bapst before Bangor, which had committed five turnovers over the first three quarters, had three in the final 90 seconds.
Bapst’s Chris Leavitt made 1 of 2 from the line following a Bangor turnover with 1:15 to play, then Means capitalized on a steal at midcourt to hit a 3-pointer and draw the Crusaders within 47-45 with 1:04 left.
Gallant made two from the line with 49 seconds left, but Means worked a give-and-go with Myerowitz to cut the Bapst deficit back to 49-47 with 38 seconds left.
Again the Crusaders fouled Gallant, and again he made both free throws to give Bangor a four-point lead with 28.8 seconds to play.
Roach then knocked down Bapst’s sixth 3-pointer of the contest after grabbing an offensive rebound to cut the gap to 51-50 and give the Crusaders one last breath of hope.
“We just had to play tough defense,” Means said. “We had to pressure them to get them to make some turnovers, and that’s what we did. We were able to convert on the other end after those turnovers, which helped us a lot.”
CRUSADERS 52, RAMS 51
John Bapst (2-2) Bangor (1-3)
Player G AG F AF TP Player G AG AF TP
Leavitt 0 0 1 2 1 Heath 0 5 0
Snyder 0 0 0 0 0 Gallant 9 17 24
Freeman 5 10 0 0 12 Astle 0 1 0
Means 6 10 1 4 15 Dowe 3 9 6
Ferrill 3 9 1 4 8 Prentiss 1 11 2 3 4
Tr. Carey 0 0 0 0 0 Derosa 3 5 7
Yeo 1 1 1 4 3 St. John 1 4 4
Myerowitz 2 4 2 2 6 Anderson 2 6
Roach 3 6 0 0 7 Trundy 0 0 0
Totals 20 40 6 16 52 Totals 19 55 10 13 51
John Bapst 7 20 34 53
Bangor 10 19 34 51
3-pt. goals ? John Bapst (6-17): Freeman 2-6, Means 2-6, Roach 1-2, Ferrill 1-3; Bangor (3-12): St. John 1-1, Derosa 1-3, Gallant 1-4, Prentiss 0-1, Heath 0-3
Attendance: 600 (est.)