SENECA — Trailing by 13 points with two minutes gone in the second half, the Seneca Fighting Irish caught a break and capitalized on it big time Tuesday against the Newark Norsemen.
NHS leading scorer Dylan Patrick (23.2 points per game) picked up a personal foul, then was ticketed with a technical foul on the same play to give him four early in the third period. Patrick then departed for a large part of the third stanza, and Seneca went to work, outscoring Class 1A No. 9-ranked Newark by 14 points the rest of the way to rally back and capture a spine-tingling 56-55, nonconference victory here in Seneca.
After Patrick went to the bench at the 6:20 mark of the third stanza, the Irish went on a 36-22 run to close out the affair where junior Logan Bruss came off the bench for a team-leading 14 points and seven rebounds, including 10 tallies in the third that helped tie the score at 40-40 with one quarter left to contest.
There, the lead changed six times before junior Sam Grushkin (seven points) hit a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds to play which proved to be the game-winning tosses.
"My jersey was called, and it was my turn to step up and make a couple of free throws during crunch time," Grushkin said. "I stood up and I did it, and I was just grateful to have the opportunity to help my team tonight."
Seneca (11-5) also received 10 points from senior Erik Bendt and junior Connor Greve. Senior Hunter Greve added nine markers as the Irish shot a red-hot 17 of 32 (53 percent) from the field on the night and 19 of 28 (68 percent) from the free-throw line despite turning the ball over 26 times.
"We had some people out of position tonight, and we turned the ball over way too much early in the game," said SHS coach Russ Witte. "But once we started handling their pressure in the second half and even though we let Patrick loose in the fourth quarter when he came back in, we managed to hold on against a very good Newark team.
Patrick ended up with a game-high 21 tallies in less than three quarters of work including eight during the final fame before fouling out with 1:31 to play. Juniors Corey Jacobson and Connor Swanson chipped in with 10 and seven points, respectively, as the Norsemen (9-6) fell out of rhythm after Patrick went to the bench.
"We had a nice run in the second quarter, especially defensively where I thought we played some of our best defense of the year forcing a bunch of turnovers," said NHS veteran coach Rick Tollefson. "But early in the first quarter we just couldn't put the ball in the hole, and then some very questionable calls on Dylan and all of us in the second half made it tough against a Seneca team that didn’t quit tonight."
The Norsemen led 9-7 lead after one period, and they'd go ahead 26-18 at the half as Patrick tallied 13 points before the intermission. Then, after a 7-2 run that put Newark up 33-20 at the 6:20 mark, Patrick received the two consecutive fouls allowing Bruss to hit three of four free throws. He'd add a 3-point bomb at 6:00 and a deuce at 1:30 that helped bring his team even at 40-40 with a quarter to go.
"I hit three out of the four free throws, and then it came down to the big 3 I hit that brought us back," Bruss said. "That was a key stretch, and from there I ended a pretty good quarter for me with another basket and all we had to do was close out from there."
In an exciting fourth quarter, Newark went ahead 55-54 with 36 seconds to play after a Jacob Slivka layup off a great feed from Swanson. But Witte called a timeout, then another after a wild scramble with five seconds to go.
Grushkin drew a blocking foul and drained the charity tosses to ice the comeback.
Seneca 56, Newark 55
NEWARK (55) — Pepino 1 0-0 3, Slivka 2 0-2 5, Patrick 10 5-8 21, Jacobson 3 2-2 10, Myre 1 3-3 5, Swanson 2 3-5 7, Chapman 0 0-0 0, Christian 0 0-0 0, Tollefson 0 0-0 0, Brown 1 2-2 4. Totals 17-47 15-22 55.
SENECA (56) — Barnett 0 0-0 0, Gonnam 0 0-0 0, Bruss 4 5-8 14, Grushkin 2 3-4 7, C. Greve 3 2-2 10, Bendt 3 4-8 10, Armbrust 1 2-2 4, H. Greve 3 3-4 9, Baudino 1 0-0 2, Brockman 0 0-0 0. Totals 17-32 19-28 56.
Newark (9-6) 9 17 14 15 — 55
Seneca (11-5) 7 11 22 16 — 56
3-point goals – Newark 6-25 (Patrick 2, Jacobson 2, Pepino, Slivka); Seneca 3-7 (C. Greve 2, Bruss). Rebounds – Newark 20 (Brown 8, Patrick 5, Swanson 5); Seneca 22 (Bruss 7, Bendt 5). Turnovers – Newark 19; Seneca 26. Total fouls (fouled out) – Newark 23 (Patrick); Seneca 21 (none).