WESTLAKE - Every tournament should have a Cinderella and it seems the Brookside Cardinals have decided to embrace that role during their run in the Westlake Division II district.
That was clearly the case Friday night as the Cardinals knocked off fourth-seeded Holy Name, 60-56, in overtime.
Brookside, which led through most of the game and then saw its advantage nearly slip away, made nine of 11 free throws in the extra period to clinch the win and advance to Wednesday's district semifinal against Bay, which defeated Padua 73-61 in Friday's second game.
Trailing 50-48 early in the extra period, the Cardinals (11-11) regained the lead at the 2:28 mark when senior Stefan Moody hit a 3-pointer.
Little more than a minute later, Holy Name's Matt Stumpf connected on a base-line layup to close the margin to 54-53 with a minute to play.
That's when the Cardinals' season-long experience in close games began to pay off. Junior Mike Harrison made a pair of free throws 10 seconds later for a three-point lead that was countered almost immediately by Corey Elliott's 3-pointer with 40 seconds left.
Brookside sophomore Hunter Skolnicki has been playing with a broken finger, but it didn't matter much when he sank a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left. Harrison followed with a big defensive rebound and sank another pair of foul shots to seal the win with 2.7 seconds left.
"I was just hoping I made them," Harrison said. "I was nervous because I missed a layup earlier, but I calmed down and made it.
"I'm definitely not the best free throw shooter and the coach has me shooting extra ones every day."
Extra practice, especially with his broken finger, helped Skolnicki too.
"I've been staying after practice and shooting free throws," the sophomore said. "I just had to focus and clear out all the crowd noise."
Moody led the Cardinals with 19 points and four 3-pointers.
"My shots were just falling tonight," he said. "But everyone was playing well. I think if we keep playing the way we are, we could win the tournament."
The Cardinals fell behind early but bounced back with three 3-pointers and fast-break layups to take an 18-11 first-quarter lead. The margin was cut to 28-23 at the half, but Brookside widened the lead to 41-31 with 2:01 to play in the third behind the shooting of Moody, Harrison and Nick Jackman.
But nothing comes easily for Cinderella teams and the Green Wave steadily worked its way back into the game in the fourth quarter, eventually tying the game at 41, again at 43 and then at 48 at the end of regulation.
"Before the overtime, we said that if we're the better team, let's re-establish ourselves," Brookside coach Brent Schremp said. "Don't worry about what happened and build that lead back up again. And, boy, did we."
"We talked all week that if we came into a tournament and picked up the pressure that good things could happen," Schremp added. "We're a good ballclub when we play hard. We have kids who can hit some shots and we have some strength inside."
The Green Wave end the season at 14-7.
"We just didn't get it done," Holy Name coach Mark Krakowiak said. "We had some guys under the weather and didn't shoot free throws well. But that's no excuse. We got to overtime and still didn't play well. And I think Brookside did a nice job."
Contact Jim Jablonski at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brookside 60, Holy Name 56
Brookside (60): Hunter Skolnicki 0-4-4, Chris Matthias 2-0-6, Luke Ackerman 2-0-4, Nick Jackman 4-2-11, Mike Harrison 3-4-10, Stefan Moody 6-3-19, Art Howell 1-3-6, Keyonte Francis 0-0-0, Matt Gorta 0-0-0. Totals 18-16-60.
Holy Name (56): Kevin Krakowiak 4-1-10, Corey Elliott 5-2-15, Matt Heben 4-4-12, Kevin Higgins 0-0-0, Seamus Day 6-0-12, Zak Baumer 1-0-2, Matt Stumpf 1-2-5, Sean Sirl 0-0-0. Totals 21-10-56.
Brookside 18 10 13 7 12 - 60
Holy Name 11 12 14 11 8 - 56
Three-point field goals: Brookside (8-14); (Howell, Matthias 2, Jackman, Moody 4); Holy Name (4-10): (Krakowiak, Elliott 3). Field Goals: Brookside 18-40 (45 percent); Holy Name 21-48 (44 percent). Free Throws: Brookside 16-22 (73 percent); Holy Name 10-22 (45 percent). Turnovers: Brookside 24; Holy Name 17. Rebounds: Brookside 30, Holy Name 28. Fouls: Brookside 20, Holy Name 22.