MERRILLVILLE | Although he’s not planning to play basketball in college, Larry Crisler still has the clutch gene deep in his DNA.
Tough times don’t last and tough people do, and Crisler proved Friday night that in any given scenario, he’s probably going to be the toughest dog.
Crisler took over the game at both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter and scored the winning basket with 22 seconds remaining as Times No. 4 Bishop Noll beat Andrean 50-48.
It was Noll’s first win in the parochial matchup, which on this night included a pre-game prayer by Bishop Dale Melczek, since Crisler’s freshman season and the regular-season finale for both teams.
“It was nice, having a sold-out crowd and everything, but we want to focus for the sectional,” Crisler said. “Tonight it all started with the team’s defense. When I can get the ball a lot I can get in a rhythm, and so does the team.”
Crisler scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. His 1-and-1 free throws with 2:12 to go tied the game at 46-all, the first tie since the first quarter ended with a 13-13 stalemate.
“That’s Larry,” Noll coach Joshua Belluomini said. “He’s a competitive person. He tries to take over games and often does. But it's not just scoring. We put Larry on (Ben Davidson), who was running things for them offensively, and he made some stops.”
After two Frank Podkul free throws put Andrean up 48-46, Noll’s Marquis Tarver, who had 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter, converted a layup with 1:03 to play to tie the game at 48.
In the final 10 seconds Andrean (10-9) had two chances to send the game into overtime or temporary YouTube fame.
Ramon Guerrero, who had made several acrobatic shots during Andrean’s 16-1 run that closed the first half, missed a drive with 10 seconds to go and caught too much iron on a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
For Noll (18-3), it was the second comeback win against a bigger school in three nights. The Warriors had five points in the second quarter Friday, just like they had Wednesday against Michigan City. Then defense begat offense in both cases.
“It was all about the fact that we kept the pressure up full-court and dictated what they were able to do offensively,” Belluomini said. “We took away a lot of opportunities.”
Davidson led Andrean with 12 points on all treys, Guerrero had 10, and Parker Huttel and Frank Podkul added nine apiece.
Tyreon Gates had eight off the bench for the Warriors, who trailed 30-18 at halftime and had to be reminded of the task at hand.
“Really we’ve just been thinking too much about the next phase of things, which is the playoffs,” Belluomini said. “I’m happy for us and all of these Bishop Noll people who came out to support us, but I want to do more than just beat our rival.”