Trailing by 12 points midway through the third quarter, the Davenport Assumption boys basketball team refused to give up.
And in one wild finish, the Knights prevailed 59-57 Friday night at the Assumption High School gym thanks to two Liam Robbins free throws with 5.8 seconds left. Robbins had gotten the rebound after Davenport North’s Jared Beck missed a pair of foul shots.
“My teammates were just telling me it’s like a normal free throw in practice,” said Robbins, who finished with 14 points and was 6 of 9 at the foul line. “We shoot pressure free throws all the time. My coach helped me prepare and my teammates were supporting me. It went in and I was happy about that.”
Assumption guard Trent Fitzpatrick had confidence in Robbins, a 6-foot-11 burly center who also added four rebounds in the second half.
“Liam’s a great dude,” said Fitzpatrick, who led the way with 16 points, 10 in the second half for the Knights (6-3, 3-2). “He’s worked so hard in the off-season.
"He went to that line and I really knew he was going to sink them. I just had to trust in my teammate that he was going to go to the line and win us that game.”
Fitzpatrick’s pass to Dylan Peeters underneath resulted in a bucket and a 54-50 Assumption lead with under 3 minutes remaining in the game. Considering the Knights were once down 46-34, it was quite a climb. A 20-4 run to be exact.
“We weathered the storm,” Fitzpatrick said. “They went on a run where they were up 12. We just trusted coach. We trusted our big guy Liam. We trusted everyone in our offense that we were going to take care of every possession and make sure we weren’t going to waste one. North’s a really good team, and they can make those runs.”
Davenport North, which fired off three shots in about three seconds prior to Robbins’ heroics with Jared Beck being fouled on the last one, had its chances. Beck, a junior, was 2 for 2 at the line prior to his two late misses, both of which rimmed around and went out. The Wildcats were outscored 17-11 in the fourth quarter.
North got a rare five-second call on Assumption for not advancing the ball while being guarded in the frontcourt with 15.8 seconds left but it just didn’t work out.
The Wildcats’ final chance was a 12-footer in the lane by V.J. Wilmington just before the horn sounded but it was off the mark.
“I just thought it was a well-played game on both sides,” said North coach Joe Ewen. “We made runs. They made runs. They just made one more play than us.”
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Ewen stressed it did not come down to the missed free throws.
“We made some mistakes before that," he said. "We had a chance with 10 seconds left to send it to overtime and we really did not execute that as well as we should.”
The Knights also got 11 points from Peeters, all in the second half including a 3-pointer that started the comeback from 12 down.
North (4-4, 1-4 MAC) was led by Wilmington’s 19, Atticus Taylor’s 14 and Max Taylor’s 12.
“North is a really good team,” praised Assumption coach Matt Fitzpatrick, uncle of Trent. “I just think that’s how it’s going to be every game in the MAC. It’s just a really deep league. I was really proud of our guys to find a way to win.”