HAMILTON — Aidan Brown saw it. Pat Kreke saw it. They both caught a glimpse Friday night of how competitive the Badin High School boys basketball team can actually be.
Having suffered brutal setbacks to Chaminade Julienne and Alter within the last week, the Rams took Greater Catholic League Coed rival McNicholas to overtime before surrendering a 55-54 defeat in their home opener.
“I think we took a big step forward. We were able to stay in this one and play like we know how,” said Brown, a junior, noting that Badin trimmed its turnovers to six on Friday from 28 against Chaminade-Julienne in a 60-27 throbbing on Tuesday.
The Rams had 12 turnovers and shot just 28.6% from the floor last Friday in their 78-38 drubbing at Alter.
“We can compete,” said Kreke, who is in his second season at the Badin helm. “When you get your butt kicked by 70 points in two games, then you start to question yourself. That’s where I’m proud of the kids. We’re saying, ‘We can compete.’ We will compete better in the GCL from here on out.”
McNicholas (2-0, 2-0 GCL Coed) got a 13-point first-quarter performance by junior Andrew Ehlers, who scored a game-high 25 points and had seven rebounds. But Badin (0-4, 0-3) played with a higher level of intensity out of the gate — which is something Brown said he was happy to see.
The Rams only trailed 15-13 after the first period.
“I think the crowd helped out a lot,” said Brown, who had a team-high 13 points for Badin. “We had a lot more confidence, we were fired up and we made shots to start the game. That just boosted our confidence, and we kept playing with aggressiveness.”
The Rockets took a 25-17 advantage into the halftime break before grabbing the largest lead of the contest on a Carson Young 3-pointer that made it 28-18 with about six minutes left in the third quarter.
“It’s their home opener,” McNicholas coach Tim Monahan said. “Our games are so back and forth. Our games are always like this. Even though we were up by 10, they always make these big second-half 3s. They just kept cutting the lead.”
That’s exactly what Badin did.
The Rams went on a 10-2 run that included five straight points from Pate Goldberg, a bucket by Grant Wissman and a trey from Brown. Another Brown 3-pointer later cut the McNicholas lead to 32-31 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve been working on our offense,” Brown said. “We’ve put an offense in, and we’ve progressed with it. The more we know our offense, and get it down, we’re going to start jelling together and start sharing the ball more.”
The Rams moved the ball well enough in the fourth quarter to find Connor Wright, who scored all seven of his points within a four-minute span to keep it a close one.
“We still have to find our chemistry, but the kids are playing well together and practicing well together,” Kreke said. “Connor Wright hit some big shots off the bench. Those are the things we’re looking for.”
A trey from Wissman gave Badin the lead, 43-42, with 2:35remaining in regulation. McNicholas went back on top with a free throw from Ty Haynes and two more from Jack Tucker that made it 45-43 with 1:09 on the clock.
Badin’s James Brink had an opportunity to connect on an old-fashioned 3-point play but couldn’t hit the free throw, keeping the score at 45-all with 30 seconds left.
The Rockets settled for the final shot of regulation — Tucker’s turnaround jumper from inside the key that caromed off the front of the rim.
Badin missed a couple of front-ends at the free throw line, and Tucker scored McNick’s first six points in overtime to hand the visitors the momentum. Ehlers closed it out with some free throws of his own in the final minute.
“We looked at McNick as being a game that will give us an idea of where we are,” Kreke said. “This was one of those games. For a lot of things, we are very happy with what happened tonight.
“We competed after we got our butt kicked twice,” Kreke added. “Now we have to figure out how to win the basketball games. What we have accomplished in practice and as we progress, we’re very happy with this. I know it may not have shown against CJ and Alter, but where we started and where we want to be, we’re progressing well.”
Goldberg finished with 11 points for Badin, which doesn’t get back to action until next Friday, Dec. 16, at Summit Country Day. McNicholas hosts Anderson on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.