The basketball season is long and varied, though certain tendencies tend to happen over and over.
“We’ve been in a lot of games this year where we’ve made runs at teams in the fourth quarter, or they have done it to us,” Providence-St. Mel swingman Josh McNeal said.
Score this one for the Knights.
McNeal scored a game-high 20 points and senior sharpshooter Bernard Lilly Jr. scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter as the Knights erased a 10-point second-half deficit to edge Marshall 64-61 in the Chops Billinger Shootout Sunday at Young.
McNeal scored 15 of his points in the first half, and almost single-handedly allowed the Knights (14-6) to withstand the Commandos’ fast start. Senior guard Citron Miller hit two early three-pointers and scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half as Marshall (8-8) led by as many as nine points early on.
Miller was scoreless from the field in the second half.
“We were able to persevere through their runs, and I had the hot start at the beginning,” McNeal said. “I was shooting the ball well early in the year, and then I hurt my wrist at the Proviso West [Holiday] tournament and it’s taken me some time to get well.
“I feel a lot better now and I’m starting to get my rhythm back.”
Unheralded Marshall sophomore guard Antonio Newman drilled four three-pointers and added a three-point play in scoring 15 points for the Commandos. He scored nine points in the third quarter as Marshall seized its largest lead at 45-35.
Lilly made his delayed entrance count. The senior guard did not start because he missed practice to take part in the IHSA state choir competition. He made up for the lost time. After going scoreless through three quarters, he caught fire at the start of the fourth quarter.
He drilled three consecutive three-pointers as Providence-St. Mel used an 11-0 run to stake its first lead, 53-50, with just over six minutes to play.
“I missed so many shots through the first three quarters, I didn’t even want to shoot any more,” Lilly said. “But there’s a reason I have teammates, and they kept encouraging me to shoot.”
Lilly knocked down two in a row from the left baseline to forge the game’s final tie at 50-50. The third three-pointer was at the opposite end on the right baseline and provided the go-ahead lead the Knights never relinquished.
“All I needed was one to get me going,” he said.
Junior frontcourt players Tyler Turner and Carl Garner added 12 points apiece for the Knights. Senior guard Tevin King scored just nine points, though he converted a crucial layup with just over a minute to play and added two big blocks of Marshall layup attempts.
Marshall cut a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to two points on separate occasions. Senior forward Lashawn Lewis scored 13 points and added nine rebounds. After McNeal split two free throws with 11 seconds remaining for the three-point margin, Marshall missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds.