FORT WAYNE — Concordia kept its SAC championship hopes alive by doing what it couldn’t do in the last two games – close things out.
Buoyed by an 8-0 run to end the game, the visiting Cadets rallied past Wayne 61-56 Friday.
The Cadets (12-3) snapped a two-game losing streak in the conference and improved to 4-2 in the SAC, tied with North Side for second place. Concordia travels to conference-leading Northrop (14-3, 5-1) next Friday with a chance to come out with the SAC title with a win and if North Side (9-5 overall) loses at Bishop Dwenger (1-11).
“It’s exciting to be playing for something and to still be in the hunt,” Concordia coach Josh Eggold said. “We had some things happen in the second half (in the Cadets’ previous loss) where we didn’t feel like we came out with the fire that we need to compete in the conference. It was great to see them come out and respond here.
“We had a fairly lackluster first half. Our press had a lot to do with our success in the second half. To keep competing even though things didn’t go our way all the time was a great maturing process for us.”
After starting the season 9-0, Concordia was 2-3 heading into Friday’s game. And the Cadets had faltered late against North Side 66-58 and Snider 64-57 in back-to-back games.
“The last two losses were tough, and we needed to win tonight; we couldn’t take three (losses) in a row,” Concordia junior D.J. McCall said. “We needed this win to stay in (the SAC race).”
Concordia beat Wayne easily in the SAC tournament 61-45, but on Friday, the Cadets trailed the Generals (9-6, 3-3) almost the entire game and were down 56-53 with a couple of minutes remaining. Eventually, Marq Rogers’ tip gave the Cadets a 57-56 advantage, their first since the first quarter.
McCall led Concordia with 25 points, Brian Gremaux had 12 and Thomas Starks 10. Rogers finished with six points.
Wayne suffered its third straight defeat and fell out of the SAC race with the loss. The Generals had two critical turnovers in the final crucial seconds.
The Generals have stumbled through a 3-5 stretch after starting the season 6-1.
“We have been in every game, and I said at the beginning of the year we are a very young team,” Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer said. “We were finding ways to win early (in the season). We just haven’t made good decisions or played well in fourth quarters.
“Our inexperience has shown.”
Jescus Mitchell led the Generals with 15 points, while Marlon Rogers-Fincher and Justin Mitchell each added 10.
Levi Mitchell had nine points.
Wayne built its lead to 33-23 at halftime before Concordia rallied by winning the second half, 38-23.
“We didn’t play that well in the first half, and we knew we needed a better second half,” McCall said. “We had to stay composed.”