Playing catch up the entire night, Immaculate finally overcame game-long deficit, claiming its first lead over Brookfield with 27 seconds to go and ultimately hanging on for the 44-39 victory.
Immaculate’s big edge in free throws: Quality or quantity, the Mustangs had a sizeable advantage at the charity line. The Mustangs made the most of their opportunities, sinking 14-of-18 free throws, including their last 10. Brookfield went just 1-for-5
The 10-for-10 finish proved to be the difference in the game, as Mike Woods and Darrius Smith combined to 4-for-4 with both shooting one-and-one. Woods’ first free throw also gave the Mustangs their first lead of the night with 27 seconds to play.
“It goes back to when we played New Fairfield. We had one of our kids at the line with 0.5 seconds to win it and he ended up missing all three,” Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said. “We talk about it every day at practice. Foul shots is the difference of winning and losing, and today they went in and thank God.”
Joey Wallace, who scored a game-high 23 points, sealed the victory by going 4-4 in the game’s final 10 seconds.
“I don’t know where that came from, to be honest. Kids were just stepping up and making shots,” Immaculate captain Darel Bowman said. “Our next three games are going to be critical games, but we definitely needed this one because this is the team that beat us before.”
Defense: The low-scoring affair was due mostly to tough defense from both sides, rather than an inability to hit shots. After giving up 18 points in the opening quarter, Immaculate yielded just three in the second while winning all of the last three quarters to claim its second straight victory.
Despite its six-game skid, strong defense is nothing new for Brookfield which has kept its opponents under 49 points in all but three games this season.
“We never thought it was going to be a blowout either way,” Brookfield coach John Flemming said. “I knew it would come down to this, and whoever executed best at the end was going to win.”
Brookfield not losing by much: Any six-game losing streak is difficult to endure, but it’s not as if the Bobcats are getting run off the court. Only twice has Brookfield lost by double digits over that stretch.
“We know that we’re in every game and sooner or later we’ll get a break. It’s difficult,” Fleming said. “We have a tough schedule. The SWCs are tough, and it doesn’t get any easier next week. We just need to get that one really critical basket to turn things around.”