VANDALIA — The fun may be over for the Tippecanoe “Brotherhood”.
But the 2020-21 season the Tippecanoe boys basketball team put together will not be soon forgotten.
The Red Devils let a 20-point lead get away in the second half and lost 58-55 to Chaminade-Julienne in the D-II regional semifinals to close the season at 21-2.
It was the final game for seniors Gabe Dean, Zach Frederick, Ben Knostman and Nick Robbins.
“Those guys were freshman my first year,” Tippecanoe coach Adam Toohey said. “So, they were my first group to go through all four years. It is going to be very strange without them. They certainly left their legacy on the program.”
And it is easy for Toohey to point out what made those four so special.
“They are all great guys, who just happen to be good basketball players,” Toohey said. “They made my job fun. They made coming to the gym fun. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.”
What had to make saying goodbye to them even stranger was it looked like the last thing that would be happening for most of the first half.
Frederick had a perfect night shooting in the first half, going 5-for-5 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, making both of his free throw attempts and scoring 16 points.
Knostman was having his way with the CJ defense, beating them to the basket for easy shots or dumping it off to his teammates for baskets as he scored nine points.
Griffin Caldwell had seven points, including a 3-pointer, Stanley Clyne added five, including a three, Cole Coppock added three points and Dean scored two as the Red Devils led 42-22 with just 30 seconds left in the half.
“It seemed like everything we did worked,” Toohey said. “It seemed like every shot we took went in.”
Tipp was 16 of 24 from the floor in the opening half for 67 percent.
But, CJ freshman Jonathan Powell started the momentum swing in those final 30 seconds.
He had a 3-point play and after a Tipp turnover, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to get the Eagles within 42-28 at the break.
“I told the guys at halftime, it seemed like almost every shot went in,” Toohey said. “That doesn’t happen very often. I guess we needed a shorter halftime.”
Because, the second half was a struggle from the very start.
Tippecanoe would only make four field goals and score 13 points in the last two quarters.
“It didn’t seem like we even took very many shots (15) in the second half,” Toohey said. “I think CJ did what CJ does. They turned up the pressure and hit some 3-pointers.”
Tipp was still clinging to a 50-41 lead going to the fourth quarter, but that quickly changed.
CJ opened the quarter with a 15-2 run to take a 56-52 lead with 1:47 to go.
The Eagles 6-7 post Daniel Nauseef had nine points in the run. At the same time, Tipp had eight turnovers in the second half after just two in the first half.
“We struggled against their post,” Toohey said. “And I think we were kind of forcing things and weren’t using ball screens, which is what we hurt them with in the first half. And 23 (Kenyan Owens) did a great job on defense for them.”
Knostman scored three points to get Tipp within 56-55 with 1:13 to go.
It was 58-55 when Tipp got one last possession and called time with 8.2 seconds to go.
“I had a thought earlier today that there would be 10 seconds to go and I would ask Zach (Frederick), where he wanted the ball,” Toohey said. “That’s what we did it was a good look.”
The shot didn’t fall and CJ held on for the win.
Frederick led Tipp with 19 points, while Knostman had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Caldwell scored nine points.
Nauseef had 19 points and seven rebounds for CJ, while Powell added 11 points and five rebounds.
Luke Chandler scored nine points and A.J. Solomon added seven.
Tipp was 20 of 39 from the floor for the game for 51 percent and eight of 15 from the line — including one of five in the fourth quarter — for 53 percent.
CJ was 19 of 46 from the floor for 41 percent and 14 of 19 from the line for 74 percent.
The Eagles won the battle of the boards 22-21 and nine turnovers to Tipp’s 10.
“I was joking with Zach (Frederick),” Toohey said. “I told him he wasn’t done — he still has to be at summer workouts. He said he would be there.”
That’s what made the Tipp Brotherhood so much fun — and so hard to see the fun end.