The game before the 5th/7th place game was cancelled and it certainly looked like there would be another cancellation as the Belmont Bulldogs were the only players on the court until 12 minutes before tip-off. Enter the Charles Hays Rainmakers heavily delayed due to traffic. Both teams with a long journey home ahead were eager to get the game started.
The Bulldogs, the beneficiary of a more thorough warm up, got off to a quick start opening up an eight point lead. Despite the early deficit, #13 Liam McChesney and the Rainmakers staged their own run and we had a tie game with a couple minutes left in the frame. McChesney continued his hot start with a pair of threes (perhaps trying break some tournament scoring records held by his older brother Justin McChesney from 2015). By the end of the quarter the Rainmakers led 27-20.
#8 Julius Kennedy of the Bulldogs continued his hot shooting going back a game and knocked down deep back-to-back triples to open the frame followed by a three by #3 Nishad Tarak for a quick 9-0 run to take the lead. The Rainmakers stayed steady in their attack including a nice fast break that led to a thunderous dunk by McChesney. Joining the party was #14 Kai Leighton adding a five point run of his own that pushed the lead to 44-33 with three minutes to play in the half. Holding for the last shot #2 Kuga Kawai of the Bulldogs put in a bucket to close the half. Rainmakers 49. Bulldogs 35.
#14 Kai Leighton of the Rainmakers stayed hot and opened the second half with another triple. #3 Nishad Tarak scored a tough left handed lay up over the outstretched arms of two defenders for the first bucket of the half for the Bulldogs and another triple. He followed up with a personal 10-0 run to cut the Rainmakers lead to 14. The Rainmakers continued their attack capitalizing on a number of Bulldog turnovers resulting in easy transition buckets. #3 Nishad Tarak rattled off two more three balls single handedly keeping the Bulldogs in the fight before the quarter was done. The Rainmakers held for the last shot and #5 knocked down a tough jumper over the defender at the buzzer. Score 71-56 for the Rainmakers.
Bulldogs’ Tarak would just not give up and did not want to be on the long trip home wondering if he could have done any more to help his team win. He started the fourth with two more triples to bring the Bulldogs within eight. #10 Christian Clifton of the Rainmakers answered with some sound defence stripping the offensive player and ending the ensuing possession with an ‘and 1’. The Bulldogs kept surging behind their sound defence and fearless play of guard Tarak who, with yet another three, pulled the Bulldogs within three points with five minutes to play in the game. #14 Liam McChesney came up with a huge block that ignited the Rainmakers fastbreak leading to a corner three by #10 Christian Clifton to put them up eight with a minute and a half to play. Down 6 with 15 seconds left the Bulldogs drew up a play that resulted in a four point play opportunity. The ensuing free throw was missed allowing the Rainmakers #14 Kai Leighton to rebound the ball and get fouled with a chance to ice the game. When it was all said and done the Rainmakers held on for the win. Final score 93-88.
Player of the Game: Charles Hays #10 Christian Clifton
Charles Hays High Scorers:
#14 Kai Leighton - 31 Points
#13 Liam McChesney - 30 Points
Belmont Bulldogs High Scorers:
#3 Nishad Tarak - 38 Points
#8 Julius Kennedy - 14 Points