Making history, a game-winning shot, holding off a fourth quarter comeback, and an overtime thriller. Perhaps one of the most anticipated nights during the basketball season has come and gone, and it was one that fans won’t forget for a long, long time. It’s rivalry night in Southern New Hampshire, and the Memorial Crusaders had to head into Central High with an undefeated record, and a top-three spot in the standings on the line.
The girls came into Central on the heels on their 24-point win over Trinity, and this game didn’t appear to look any different. The Lady Crusaders looked dominant as they led by upwards of 20 points, but as they began to let off the gas, Central snuck its way right back into the game. Despite nearly coming back to tie the game in the final moments, Memorial was able to hold off the Little Green to remain atop the Division I standings, and improve to 10-0.
In the midst of all the action, senior guard, Haleigh Shea etched her name into the history books. During the Friday night win, Shea knocked down her 999th, and 1,000th point as a member of the Crusaders. Shea has been a star throughout her tenure at Memorial, and has been the leader of this team during their incredible run. Averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.8 steals per game, Shea’s ability to remain dominant, while still being unselfish has been key to her success.
The boys tipped-off at 6:30 and from the start, it was a back-and-forth affair. The Crusaders lacked the explosiveness that they can usually use to their advantage, but they were able to stay within striking distance all night. The teams were matching each other blow-for-blow in the fourth, and after regulation, the cross-town rivals were knotted up at 50. Central regained control at the start of overtime, scoring the first two baskets of the extra period. As time ticked away, Jake Santiago knocked down what appeared to be the shot of the night. Santiago had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he sunk a three and drew a foul right in front of his own bench. The senior was exuding his confidence as he flexed his muscles to the Memorial student section, and calmly hit the game-tying free throw.
With the score tied at 54 and a minute to go, Tyson Thomas began directing traffic from the top of the key, before Coach Bryson took a timeout to help his team regroup. Thomas and Roumraj played hot-potato, coming out of the timeout, as the play failed to develop. With 0.4 seconds on the clock, Thomas was forced heave up a trey from three feet behind the line. Tyson looked like he had done it 100 times before as he hit the game-winning jumper to get his team to 6-1 on the season. Santiago looked like he’d be the star of the night, but Tyson “ICE MAN” Thomas stole the show in the final seconds.
I guess you could say it was a successful night for each of the basketball programs. These teams have proven to us time, and time again, that when it comes down to crunch time, they have the winning mentality to be able to come out on top.
In a postgame interview with nhsportspage.com, Thomas explained what separates this team from the field, “They didn’t want to pressure us, they didn’t want to pick us up.” This comment from the Senior has been evident all season long, teams will continue to be scared of you, until you give them a reason not to.