Crazy Finish Finds Thunder Men’s Basketball Sitting at 2 and 1Posted on: Nov 4, 2013
This past weekend the Thunder took on northern rival Augustana in a 2 game set. Friday night the Thunder would get out to an early lead and never look back. Leading by as many as 17, the Thunder would cruise to an 11 point win over the Vikings. Leading the way for the Thunder was Dave Shantz with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Jamaal Bucknor also tallied a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. A breakout performance from freshman point guard Nikko Guce saw him register 12 points to go along with 4 boards and 3 assists. Dallas Wright also filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals.
Saturday night out in Camrose would prove to be one of the wildest games in Thunder history. A tight first half had the Thunder clinging to a 1 point lead which the Vikings would erase and turn into a 4 point advantage heading into the 4th. The Thunder would continue to struggle to score for a large portion of the 4th frame going down as many as 15. Following a timeout with 2:48 to play and down 11, the Thunder would go on an unbelievable run to get the score to 69-66. With 2.3 left on the clock, down 3, the Thunder came out of their final time out. The ball entered to 2nd year guard Liban Abdi-Aziz who would hit the biggest shot of his Thunder career tying the game with a deep 3-pointer.
Overtime now awaited the Thunder and Vikings; back and forth the two teams went and with 35 seconds to play the Thunder would finally take a lead 77-76 only to see the Vikings come down and hit a clutch 3 and go back up 79-77. Once again the ball found its way in the hands of Liban Abdi-Aziz. Coming off a great screen from Jamaal Bucknor, Liban would again tie the game with a 10 foot jumper on the left side of the lane. Then – in what can only be described as pure chaos – the Vikings entered the ball only to have the clock not start. The officials inexplicably allowed the play to continue and the Vikings found themselves in the clear for a layup causing the Thunder to foul and put the Vikings on the line with the score knotted at 79. Missing the first but making the second, the Vikings went up 80-79. With the officials arbitrarily adjusting the clock down to 1.5 seconds, the Thunder took their final timeout. Coming out, the Thunder entered the ball to Jamaal Bucknor who while taking a lot of contact on his way to the rim was unable to make the shot at the buzzer.
“(It was) an extremely tough way to lose,” said Coach Wood after the loss. “We battled back in a Reggie Miller-like fashion, being down 9 with 48 seconds to go and to have this game decided by people other than the 10 players on the floor and the coaches on the sideline is more than a tough pill to swallow. Having said that, we also hurt ourselves with a high number of turnovers throughout the game that gave valuable possessions to our opponent. Full credit to Coach Drabiuk and the Vikings for a tough, hard fought game.”
Leading the way for the Thunder again was Dave Shantz with a monster double-double registering 25 points and 18 rebounds. Front court mate Jamaal Bucknor was also huge with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 4 assists. Liban Abdi-Aziz had a career night not only hitting 2 huge game tying shots but totaling 22 points off the bench on 10 of 15 shooting. Nikko Guce and Dallas Wright both added 8 points.
The Thunder now welcome the GPRC Wolves to the RKAC for a two game set this coming weekend. The first game goes at 8 PM on Friday, November 8th while the matinee will tip off at 3 PM on Saturday, November 9th.
Photo Courtesy of John McIntosh