FORT WAYNE – On weary legs, the Northrop boys basketball team was able to stand strong long enough to win a third straight SAC tournament title.
Feeling the effects of playing a fifth tournament game in four days, the Bruins held off Concordia 68-62 in the tournament finals Saturday at Wayne.
Northrop (10-2) is the fourth team to pull off the three-peat, and the second Bruins’ team to accomplish the feat.
This is a totally new team, and you saw new pieces step up and make plays, Northrop coach Barak Coolman said. For us, it is more about the moment than history. It is a testament to all the Bruins who have come through before, but it is also about this moment and about preparing and getting guys to step up.
Northrop now holds the most wins (55) and titles (10) in tournament history, dating back to 1975.
The Bruins improved to 10-3 in SAC tournament title games and haven’t lost in the title game since 1993.
It means a lot to us, Brenton Scott said of the three-peat. We know we can win the SAC, and that gives us confidence.
The Class 4A No. 8 Bruins played three games in the SAC tournament Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and two at the Hall of Fame Classic on Friday. They went 4-1.
Brenton and Bryson Scott logged a lot of minutes the last few days, and you could tell they were tired, Coolman said. To have guys step up and help them will be huge this next stretch in January when it is a meat-grinder.
To be honest, we practice really hard, and our practices are harder than our games. They are almost thankful we don’t practice.
Just a day earlier, the Bruins went 1-1 in the Classic in New Castle, winning the consolation game over Jay County after losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Indianapolis Tech.
Northrop got to bed early Saturday after a 3-hour plus bus ride back from New Castle because of snowy weather.
We pushed through it, and we stayed mentally focused, so I am glad we were able to get this one, Brenton Scott said.
Brenton Scott led Northrop with 18 points, but Antonio Richmond stepped up for 17.
They said you have to step up if your number gets called, and my number kept getting called, said Richmond, who hit three three-pointers. So I was ready to go. Teammates kept encouraging me to keep shooting, and I kept going.
Bryson Scott had 13, and Cory Womack 11.
It was a big run at the end of the third quarter that propelled the Bruins. Concordia had a 38-31 lead midway through the third before Northrop went on a 17-1 run into the fourth to take a 48-38 advantage.
It started with our defense, Richmond said of the run. It creates offense, so that’s how we kept going.
The Cadets (9-1) would get to within 64-62 with a minute left, but wouldn’t get any closer.
Concordia got 18 points from D.J. McCall and 17 from Thomas Starks.
The Cadets fell to 3-3 in SAC title games, losing for the first time in the finale since 1995.
The SAC tournament is sponsored by SportONE.