This time, there was no miracle finish for Snider.
On Friday, the Panthers – who had already pulled off multiple miraculous wins this season – pushed the Knights to the brink, but Jalen Causey hit two crucial free throws for Bishop Luers with 6.1 seconds left, Snider couldn't pull off the inbound play, and the Knights won 79-74.
“There's a lot of emotion right now,” Bishop Luers coach Fonso White said. “The guys just battled, and that's what it's about. The best thing is, when I walk in that locker room, I see a lot of smiling faces. Because where they were at two years ago – who thought we'd be here right here competing for a SAC championship?”
The win throws the SAC title picture into chaos, as four teams (Bishop Luers, Snider, Homestead and Carroll) are all 6-2 in league play with one conference game left to play.
The Knights (11-6) held a four-point lead with 3:38 to play on Friday night, but the Knights were in a dangerous situation.
Naylon Thompson, who had already scored 24 points for Bishop Luers, had just fouled out, and three more Knights had four fouls.
“Naylon was a good cheerleader for the guys over on the side,” White said.
Their lead had shrunk from 12 points to four in a matter of minutes, and Snider was on a roll.
With 1:48 to play, Snider senior Dillon Duff tied the game at 72 with a dunk, but Demarcus Hudson of Bishop Luers responded with a bucket of his own despite being guarded by both Duff and Alonzo Derrick. Hudson hit the free throw to go ahead 75-72.
Duff hit a layup to pull the Panthers (15-5) back within a point, but Snider never had another chance to attempt a winner. Duff had scored 14 of his 28 points in the final quarter. Michael Eley scored 25 for the Panthers.
“Eley, we wanted to make sure he didn't have a game on us like he had last year, and we wanted to make sure Duff didn't get 40 points on us like he did last year,” White said.
The Snider duo came close to replicating their performance from 2019, when the Panthers beat the Knights by 59 points, but this time the Knights kept pace. Thompson successfully cut straight to the basket again and again, and the teams traded the lead throughout the second and third quarters. Hudson, who finished with 13 points, and John Peterson (who scored 10) made the Panthers pay on second-chance shots.
And now, all that stands between the Knights and an SAC title is a game against North Side and the outcome of the Carroll-Homestead match. The Knights beat the Chargers in their head-to-head match up but lost to Homestead.
“If Carroll wins, we're assured that we get it because of the tie-breaker,” White said. “Our hope is that Carroll does a great job and Marty Beasley has those guys ready to play and they take care of business for us.”