Logan Irwin refused to let Grace’s men’s basketball team taste defeat for the first time this season.
With Grace locked in a dogfight with Grace Bible College on Saturday, Irwin made play after play in the final minutes to lift the Lancers to a 72-66 win. Irwin scored 11 points in the final five minutes, including the go-ahead 3-pointer, to help Grace secure the championship of the annual Bennigan’s Terry Polston Hoops for Hope.
Erik Bowen earned Tournament MVP status for his performance. He finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday. Irwin scored 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 beyond the arc. He was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Eric Miller got Grace off to a fast start with five points in the opening 2:09, but it was Grace Bible who started off faster. The Tigers jumped out to an 18-9 lead after 11 minutes of action.
The Lancers (6-0) found life after a timeout and quickly cut into Grace Bible’s lead. In the final minute of the half, Grace used a 3-pointer by Josh Ruggles and a last-second layup by Brandon Vanderhegghen to trim the deficit to 30-29 at the break.
The score remained close for the duration of the second half; the lead never grew by more than six points for either team over the final 20 minutes. Incredibly, it was a one-possession game from 12:04 to 1:00 remaining in the contest.
Kyle Fillman hit a baseline jumper with 3:03 on the clock to give Grace a 63-62 advantage. The Tigers responded with a pair of free throws to grab a one-point lead, but Irwin buried a 3-pointer on Grace’s next possession with 2:22 left to give the Lancers the lead for good.
After a defensive stop by the Lancers, Irwin hit two free throws only to be matched by the Tigers with less than a minute to play. Irwin then hit a jumper with 22 seconds left to essentially ice the game. After another stop defensively, Ruggles swished two more free throws for the final six-point margin of victory.
Fillman was named the recipient of the Hoppus Mental Attitude Award, tallying seven points and five rebounds. Ruggles had 13 points with three 3-pointers.
Grace Bible outshot the Lancers, making 48 percent compared to 42 percent for the hosts. The Lancers only turned the ball over nine times, however, and forced the Tigers into 14 turnovers.
The Lancers hit the road next week, playing at Lincoln Christian (Ill.) on Thursday and Clarke (Iowa) on Friday.