Entering the 2017-18 season, TRC returns almost all their key players from last year's team that made it to the Championship game. After losing 4 starters last season, a revamped Athlete Institute Prep and their twin-headed scoring attack of Luguentz Dort (19ppg) and Addison Patterson (18ppg) headed to Brantford to take on the team that knocked them out in the Semis last season.
In a closely contested affair, TRC managed to force overtime with a buzzer-beating miracle and defended home court with an OT win, 97-95.
In this OSBA 2017 Semi Finals rematch, expectations were high on both sides with a retooled Athlete Institute roster facing the TRC team that topped them and earned a berth in last season’s Finals. AI's huge addition Luguentz Dort (Arizona State commit) drilled his first shot of the game for three points. TRC Forward Matt Grace dropped a nice post move down low and opened up an early lead 17-12 for his squad. Late in the quarter it was Addison Patterson for AI and Adong Makuoi for TRC exchanging buckets but the Wolfpack hit the break with the slight lead.
Dort started the second quarter with a defensive statement including a massive volleyball spike block followed by a steal on the next possession keeping Athlete Institute in the game. Down five points early in the second, Bears guard Sam Rautins hit a three then snuck in for a steal inside to give AI Prep a 33-30 lead. A beautiful take by Addison Patterson to the hoop and smooth finish with his left hand completed the comeback and gave AI Prep a 39-35 lead at the half.
Antoine Vernon opened the second half with a long bomb and great ball movement by TRC as they looked smooth coming out of the locker room. On a three-on-one fast break, Vernon scooped an underhand lob to Makuoi for a sky-high jam that looked as if he was staring down at the rim, brining TRC back within one possession. Lorenzo Downey from TRC and Athlete Institute’s Ben Hendriks exchanged dunks on opposite ends with under three minutes left in the third keeping the game close throughout. AI guard Keeshawn Barthelemy (25 pts) closed the third with a steal and fast break jam to give his Bears a 57-54 lead heading into the final frame.
A close game through the first three frames both teams sought some separation in the fourth. AI struck first on a fast break with a two-handed oop thrown down by Dort (21 pts) from Barthelemy. TRC guard Steve Levnaic (25 pts) kept his Wolf Pack in the game with a three but AI continued to press and Dort assisted on consecutive Jevonnie Scott baskets to put AI up by seven with less than two minutes left. TRC guard Avan Nava drilled a clutch three to pull his Wolf Pack back within two points just under a minute left and had a chance to take the lead but the ball lipped in and out allowing AI to get out on the break and a lay-in by Patterson to seal the deal… or so it seemed. After a pair of missed free throws by AI, Antoine Vernon knocked in a heavily-contested double pump three pointer from well outside the arc to send it to overtime as the final buzzer sounded.
In the extra frame baskets were traded back and forth as the game remained closely contested. Levnaic was huge for TRC down the stretch. He drove strong to the hole then got a steal on the other end that led to free throws and a put-back off his own miss putting TRC up by four.
"Everyone thinks I'm a shooter so I can usually get them off the pump fake now and get to the net," said Levnaic.
An Antoine Vernon three followed by a massive Adong Makuoi put back delivered the knockout blow putting TRC up seven with 1:20 remaining. An Addison Patterson three then a goaltending call against TRC gave AI one more breath but it was not to be as TRC completed the win at home, 97-95.
"The locker room was pretty crazy after a good win," Levnaic said after the game. "When [Vernon's] shot went in I was so happy and we were all so happy it gave us such a boost to go into overtime and get the win."
Steve Levnaic (6-2 SG, 2018) - 25
Matt Grace (6-9 PF, 2018) - 18
Adong Makuoi (6-9 F, 2018) - 18
Keeshawn Barthelemy (6-3 G, 2020) - 25
Luguentz Dort (6-5 G, 2018) - 21
Addison Patterson (6-7 G, 2020) - 13