With the game in his hands, senior Charles Bush took the inbound pass, allowed the clock to tick below 30 seconds, and then made his mark.
The rest is history.
The men’s basketball team defeated Keystone College by a score of 64-62 on Tuesday, Feb. 24, but it came down to the very last possession.
“When I got the ball, I was hoping the play that coach drew up would work,” Bush, English and communication major, said. “Once it broke down, I was just trying to get in position to make the best shot possible. When it dropped, I was excited until I saw the ten seconds left on the clock, and I realized we had to go play some defense.”
The Cavaliers prevailed on the defensive end and earned themselves a berth in the conference championship.
Bush scored a hard-fought 13 points in the relatively low scoring battle, while sophomore Lamar Fisher tallied 12.
It took the Cavaliers four minutes to make a dent on the scoreboard, and Keystone lead the majority of the first half. The score was tied at 12 halfway through, but the Giants were all over the Cavaliers after that.
Cabrini found themselves down 35-28 at the half and shot only 32.4 percent from the field, a near season worst.
When asked if he was feeling nervous to start the second half, Coach Marcus Kahn said simply, “Absolutely. I knew we had it in us, I knew we would make a run late in the second, but when Keystone answered right back, I definitely got nervous.”
Junior Corey White understood what needed to be done.
“I wasn’t worried about being down,” White, computer science major, said. “We all walked in the locker room and agreed that we needed to play better defense and rebound better, and ultimately work hard until the clock read double zero.”
White had five points, all of which came in the second half, as the Cavaliers stormed back and finally took their first lead with under 16 minutes to go in the game, on a Dom Farrello lay-up.
“When it came down to it, we just wanted it that much more,” White said.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the game became a nail biter for both sides, with five lead changes and neither side reaching more than a five-point lead.
But the Cavalier faithful shook the bleachers in support of their team throughout the majority of the half.
Keystone was up 61-53 after a technical foul was handed to Farrello, but the Cavaliers chipped away with hard earned free throws, setting up for that story book ending.
“During that last timeout we told the guys to go out there and get us to the championship,” assistant coach Saleem Brown said. “Bush had a lot on his shoulders and he came up huge.”
Bush waited until after the game to celebrate his game-winner, making sure to hustle back on defense to make one last stand.
“Honestly, I was just thanking God through that entire last play,” Bush said. “It has been a long time from that 5-19 season. We lost in the first round last year, and it is definitely great to finally get over that hump.”
Kahn was among a few people left lingering on the floor once the game was over. With what was left of his voice, he stood by his family as he thanked a few of his friends who came out to watch the game.
Already with a Coach of the Year honor under his belt, the first-year coach of the Cavaliers was all smiles as he gave thought to how this season has unfolded.
“Winning that award really made me feel honored,” Kahn said. “But I really give all of the credit to my players, and my assistants more than myself. I have incredible assistants and my players are great too. They go out and do it every night, grind out big wins just like they did tonight. To me, those are the biggest reasons for the award.”
Brown said Kahn’s award was well deserved.
“Kahn came in and made the players believe in a system that works,” Brown said. “We all follow him and believe in him.”
The Cavaliers will dance with conference rivals Gwynedd-Mercy College for the championship on Friday, Feb. 27, at Gwynedd-Mercy.
“When we played Gwynedd here and beat them, most valuable player of the league Dave Smith looked at me and said, ‘we’ll see you guys again,'” Bush said. It looks like he was right.”