Snider did it again on Friday night.
With the seconds ticking down late in regulation at Carroll, the Panthers trailed by one with the ball. While a raucous crowd at Carroll Fieldhouse rained screams down onto Snider, with its offensive possession on the end of the floor right in the epicenter of “Neon Nation” the Panthers went to work.
As Snider went into an offensive set, the seconds ticked away.
Jon Barnes Jr. found Karson Jenkins on the perimeter, who looked for an entry pass into Dillon Duff, who was well defended in the post.
Jenkins got the ball back to Barnes Jr., who lobbed it into Duff from the wing. The senior Duff, a man no stranger to clutch situations, put a move on Ray Vollmer, got physical and elevated a six-foot baby hook shot for the go-ahead points with 17 seconds left.
Vollmer’s attempt at a winning bucket at the other end concluded another close victory for Snider, this one coming by a 56-55 final.
“We prepare for these types of games every day,” Duff said. “We have situations in practice where we will put ourselves down three with 40 seconds left where we have to dig out of a hole. We practice this. It isn’t an accident when we are able to make plays late.”
Friday’s win was the latest in a series of impressive performances late in games by the Panthers. Over the last two weeks, Coach Jeremy Rauch’s team has won on a last-second heave from beyond center court (at Homestead), erased a 10-point deficit in the final minute of regulation (Churubusco) and came up clutch big on the road against the Chargers to stay even with Bishop Luers atop the SAC.
How impressive have the last two weeks been? Consider that in the last 14 days, Snider (14-3, 5-1 SAC) has won three games by a single point – Homestead, Churubusco and Carroll. That matches the contests that the Panthers won in similar fashion over the previous 12 SEASONS.
The victory on Friday was the fifth straight overall for the Panthers, and third in four days that capped a grueling week and simulates what could be experienced in a sectional.
Snider’s latest win was impressive in other ways as well. Whereas junior Jade Moore was the hero on Tuesday in hitting a buzzer-beating shot to win, the sophomore Jenkins was big on Friday, finishing with 16 points, including several three-pointers, to be the latest Panthers reserve to burst onto the scene when his team needed him the most.
And that may be what makes the Panthers the most dangerous with a month left in the regular season. A lot of attention is put on Duff and Michael Eley, and for good reason, but Rauch has developed a lengthy bench that is full of players eager and capable of coming up big.
For now, Snider will revel in a successful week with a perch atop the SAC.
But big games await, including a showdown with Bishop Luers in two weeks. Will the late-game heroics continue into another month?