With about two minutes left and the Batavia Blue Devils down by five points, the instructions from Coach Buddy Brasky were clear -- whatever you do, don't foul number three.
You don't want to put the ball in the hands of the other team's best player in the closing minutes of a tight came.
Then Batavia's senior guard Ryan Pyatt did exactly what would get him pulled from the game. He fouled Jamell Johnson, number three for Charles Finney.
Earlier in the game, Finney's senior forward scored the 1,000th point of his career. That's how good he is.
It was clear at this stage of Thursday's game, giving points to Finney could possibly sink the home team's hopes of winning the 29th Annual Batavia Lions Club Boys Basketball Tournament. Up to this moment, Batavia never had even had as much as a single-digit lead.
But then Johnson, who had 24 points on the night, gave Batavia a gift. He missed his free throw.
Andrew Hoy, Batavia's all-time leading scorer, on the other hand, would be fouled four times in the final two minutes.
He didn't miss his shots. Not one of them.
In all, during those closing minutes, Hoy sunk 10 straight free throws (two came on a technical foul by Finney's Justin Allison), plus put up two points on a critical jump shot, to lead Batavia to a 53-50 victory.
"I just kept telling myself, have confidence," Hoy said after the game. "I kept reminding myself, I’ve made a million free throws. This is nothing different.
"When you're at the free throw line, you’ve got to make those," the senior guard added. "They call them free for a reason."
Allison's technical foul -- he mouthed off to Batavia's sophomore forward Justin Washington and then to a ref -- is what changed the momentum in the game, both Brasky and Hoy said.
At that point, with 2:30 left, Finney had an eight-point lead and were hitting their shots.
After that, Finney would score two more points (despite having players go to the free throw line three times) and Batavia would score 13, with 12 coming from Hoy, who had 22 points on the night.
"I kept stressing to my kids, the game’s not over," Brasky said. "That’s why we play 32 minutes. You don’t get too high when you go on a run, you don’t get too low when they go on a run. You play 32 minutes and we did.
"We took advantage of the technical and I give our kids a lot of credit for that," Brasky added.
Batavia moves to 7-1 and Finney is 8-2.
Batavia's other top scorers: Justin Washington, 12 (and 13 rebounds), Ryan Funke, 6, and Ryan Pyatt with 6. Spencer Stressing had 3 and Dylan Hodownes and Tommy Prospero each added two.
For Finney, Dan Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
In the consolation game, Notre Dame beat Dansville 70-45. Vinnie Zambito scored 22 points with seven assists for Notre Dame, now 5-1. Zach Hotze scored 13, Doane McCulley, 11, Mike Pratt, 9, Tom Whelehan, 6. Pratt's 9 came on three, three-point goals.
The Batavia Blue Devils with their championship trophy. Photo courtesy Bev Hoy.
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