The College of Staten Island and Illinois Wesleyan University both advanced to the championship leg of the 10th annual Tournament of Heroes, scoring wins over Vaughn College and Bethany College, respectively. CSI scored a one-sided, 104-51, win over the visiting Warriors, which was preceded by the Titans’, 63-60, nail biter over Bethany, which was handed its first loss of the season.
CSI (7-3) left little to doubt in their contest, scoring the most lop-sided win in tourney history, matching a record 104 points set by Rhode Island (over St. Joseph’s College) in 2003. The Dolphins never trailed, opening up a quick, 12-6, lead on the back of T.J. Tibbs’ pair of baskets, part of 21 first-half points for the senior. After Vaughn (4-8) cut the lead to four, 18-14, on a running layup by Ryan Burchette, CSI exploded for a 23-8 run, fueled by five straight Tibbs baskets, four from behind the arc.
A Jordan Young layup at 3:33 of the first frame, started another 17-3 run for the home team, and from there the floodgates were open. Five minutes in to the second frame, CSI emptied its bench, allowing CSI to flow in 11 substitutes, as the Dolphins scored a total of 46 points off of the bench to Vaughn’s 14. CSI got a career-high 15 points from Javon Cox, who shot 6-for-6 from the floor.
Tibbs’ 21 points paced CSI, as the senior added five assists. Bloochy Magloire poured in 18 markers for the Dolphins, while Jordan Young finalized with 15 points and a team-high five rebounds. Burchette led all Vaughn scorers with 13 points while Jihad Caesar had 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
In the early game, Illinois Wesleyan (8-2) fell into a gaping hole early, as Bethany raced out to a 16-2 lead with 12:42 to go in the first frame. Reece Mabery did the damage for the Bison (10-1) connecting on a trio of three-pointers, with James Barton adding another, forcing the Titans to ask for time after missing 10 straight shots to open the game.
The Titans registered their first field goal moments later, at 12:30, on a Kevin Reed lay-in, and the basket prompted a numbing 22-11 run to end the first half. Another pair of Reed lay-ups and a Nick Anderson put-back started a 13-2 run to close the half, aided by a personal seven-point spurt from John Koschnitzky. At halftime, Bethany’s lead was reduced to 27-24.
A Jordan Zimmer three-pointer to start the second frame for IWU knotted the game at 27-27, and then a Victor Davis three-point play gave the Titans their first lead at 30-27 with 18:19 to go. From there, the lead changed hands four times, with Bethany grabbing their final lead at 36-35 with 12:45 to go via a Nick Wilcox jumper. Free throws by Anderson gave IWU the lead again and then later, with the score knotted at 41-41 with 9:40 to go, the Titans used a 10-2 run over the next 4+ minutes to grab its biggest lead, 51-43, spearheaded by a pair of Zimmer baskets and a long three by Stephen Rudnicki.
Bethany bounced the lead down to as few as two in the waning moments, 62-60, on another Mabery three, but a quick foul and made free-throw by Rudnicki with a tenth of a second left sealed the game.
IWU was led by Zimmer’s 23 points, while Davis and Reed added 10 points apiece. Reed would add a game-high 10 rebounds as well. For Bethany, Mabery delivered 31 points, tied for the second-highest total in Tournament history. Brady Pacific added 10 points, while British Alexander led with 9 rebounds.
In-between games, CSI honored the memory of Terrance Aiken, Scott Davidson, and Tom Hannafin, three former CSI men’s basketball players who were killed on 9/11 and in whose memory the Tournament serves. The crowd of 890 was the highest at CSI this season.
The Tournament of Heroes continues tomorrow evening. At 5:30pm, Bethany College will take on Vaughn College in the Consolation Round, while Illinois Wesleyan University and CSI will square of at 7:30pm in the Championship Game.