“That was HUGE,” said the coach. “Cambio and Hall were doing some damage. We were having trouble defending them, and they were like a boxer that saw a cut and kept going for it. But then they got into foul trouble and it slowed them down.”
For a few moments in the first half, Central Catholic feared its worst nightmare had become a reality when reigning Eagle-Tribune MVP Tyler Nelson rushed to the bench with a finger injury that one fan described as “mangled and horrible.”
Nault feared the worst.
“Tyler came to the bench and said, ‘Coach, my finger is broken!” Nault remembered. “I told him that it was dislocated. But, for a split second, I thought to myself, ‘What if it is broken? We are in trouble if Tyler can’t go back in the game.’ But they popped it back in and it was fine.”
The finger, on his non-shooting left hand, the same as his earlier wrist injury, was taped up and he continued to play. Nault felt the impact on his senior guard’s game was negligible.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “He had a few turnovers, but I think that had more to do with their defense than his finger. Once they got it back in he kept battling and seemed fine.
“But it is really a shame that last shot didn’t fall. After all he has done and the career he has had it would have been nice to see a magical finish. Go to overtime and see what happens. But that just didn’t happen.”
While the Raiders were not able to complete their comeback, Shepard was very impressed by his opponent’s offensive game.
“They scored 70 points, and that is the most we have given up in at least two years,” said the Putnam coach. “I don’t remember the last time we gave up 70. They ran their offense to perfection and got a lot of easy lay-ups. Luckily we made a few more plays.”