The moment the decision was made, by either father or son, is anybody’s guess now.
Might’ve been when Kapaun Mount Carmel’s Atir Cherne got the step on his man, ball in hand and headed toward the middle of the lane with clock winding down and the score tied.
Might’ve been when Cherne’s dad, Kapaun coach John Cherne, saw his son take flight toward the rim.
“I really wanted a timeout, wanted them to dribble to the baseline and I’d call it,” John Cherne said. “At some point, I just decided not to.”
And with that, Atir Cherne‘s floating, left-handed layup with 1.8 seconds left became the deciding play in Friday night’s 48-46 season-opening win over Heights.
“Give Atir Cherne a lot of credit,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “He just wanted to make a play … I tip my cap to him. That’s their senior making a heck of a play.”
It was Cherne’s heroics and a lights-out shooting performance by fellow senior Thomas O’Connor that lifted the Crusaders.
O’Connor hit unguarded threes. He hit them backed up a couple of steps off the arc. He hit the last one almost falling out of bounds, in front of his own bench, with a man draped all over him.
All told he hit six three-pointers — including four in a row at one point — and finished with 18 points
“Started out cold, kept shooting and they started falling,” O’Connor said. “That was a really intense game. It was wild. Both teams played really hard.”
It ended a streak of four straight Falcon wins over Kapaun, including in last season’s sub-state.
“They put us out of sub-state and that was a big motivation for us,” Atir Cherne said. “When I got to the rim, I saw (Heights forward) Davon Gill and those long arms, so I knew I had to get it high.”
Heights took control early, going up 14-6 after the first quarter, but Kapaun stormed back with long-range shooting.
Back-to-back threes by Atir Cherne cut Heights’ lead to 19-14 with just over five minutes before halftime before O’Connor started to heat up. The 6-foot guard hit four straight three-pointers for a 26-19 lead with 56.5 seconds left in the half.
Heights’ Semaj Hervey stopped the bleeding with a banked-in three at the buzzer to cut the lead to 26-22, but not before O’Connor had stolen the momentum back single-handedly.
“(O’Connor) had flashes of that last year,” John Cherne said. “That’s what he’s capable of. We’re fortunate they were going in.”
Kapaun pushed its lead to 46-39 with 3:27 left in the game before Hervey led a Falcon comeback, scoring seven straight points, including another three-pointer with 45 seconds left to tie the score.
“We did some good things, but we just weren’t committed to our offensive structure,” Auer said. “We were very passive offensively. We had a great start, then we just settled the rest of the night.”
The Crusaders were able to run the clock down to nine seconds and call a timeout, the ball in front of their own bench.
And all’s well that ends well.
“No timeout, that’s on me,” said John Cherne, smiling. “I was supposed to call it.”
Kapaun: Patton 3 3-5 11, O’Connor 6 0-0 18, Monty 2 0-0 4, Cherne 3 0-0 8, Lickteig 0 2-7 2, Hope 1 2-2 5.
Heights: Hervey 6 0-1 14, Lowe 5 0-0 11, Johnson 3 1-3 9, Gill 5 0-1 10, Bahner 0 0-1 0.