ELLENDALE, N.D. -- The Sabercats thought they punched their ticket to the North Region Championship tonight, but they had another thing coming.
After getting into foul trouble with three of their starters, the Sabercats gave up a 21-point lead and eventually fell in overtime for a brutal end to the season.
- Result: #5 Maranatha 88-98 #1 Faith Baptist (OT)
- Venue: Trinity Bible College
- Location: Ellendale, N.D.
- Attendance: 61
- Records: MBU (9-12), FBBC (16-11)
The Sabercats went to their deep shooting in the opening possessions, as Jed Mayhak and Taylor Ball connected from downtown to lead the Sabercats out to a commanding 16-2 lead, forcing Faith to call a timeout. It was the perfect start.
But the momentum would soon be thwarted, as the Eagles punished some Sabercat turnovers to answer with a 22-7 run of their own. That set the tone for the rest of the first half, as the two teams stayed close for the remainder. When the dust settled, the Eagles had stayed within one point. And while the Sabercats had the lead, it didn't really feel like it.
As it turned out, the Sabercats just had to weather the storm, as they shot out of the gate with a 22-5 run to start the second half. Stephen Wilkerson and Aaron Sanders were calling the shots, and the Sabercats put the game out of reach of the Eagles.
For the time being.
After building and holding a 15-20-point lead for the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Sabercats began to let the lead slide. It was the Eagles' own doing, as their determination and tough defending proved to be pernicious. And when Ball, Sanders, and Wilkerson all fouled out, the Eagles sensed their chance.
Faith kept the foot on the gas finally tied the game at the 2:10 mark to signal a nervy end to the game. Neither team dominated the final possessions, and the five-minute overtime period was next.
Overtime periods are about execution and heart, and on this occasion, the Eagles showed more of both. Faith started to hit their shots from the floor and from the line, and the shorthanded Sabercats seemed to run out of energy in their second game in as many days. The shots just wouldn't fall for Maranatha down the stretch, and they will have until next season to remember this game.
MBU Starters: 2- Ball, 3- Mayhak, 4- Steuerwald 5- Sanders, 23- Wilkerson
- Ball: 28 PTS, 9 REB, 3 STL
- Wilkerson: 18 PTS, 3 REB
- Mayhak: 16 PTS, 5 REB
- Sanders: 9 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
- Zeke Steuerwald: 9 PTS
- Last time: The Sabercats won 65-64 at home earlier this season
- Series: Maranatha now leads the all-time series 9-2
- Faith Baptist recently took home the MCCC Tournament Championship
- Faith Baptist finished the season last year with a 6-17 record
- Faith Baptist came into the tournament with a 5-4 record against North Region opponents this season
The Sabercats' season is over with this loss to Faith, while the Eagles advance to the NCCAA North Region Championship tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. A full recap of the season will be forthcoming at mbusabercats.com.