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OSSIAN – When asked whether his team would have won a game like Tuesday's at Norwell a year ago, Bishop Dwenger boys basketball coach Matt Kostoff did not hesitate to reply.
“I don't think last year's team would have expected to win,” Kostoff said. We wouldn't have gotten this win last year, no way.”
The Saints lost six of eight games decided by 10 points or fewer a year ago, but Tuesday they overcame late adversity against the Knights to earn a 64-61 overtime victory.
The win gives Bishop Dwenger its first 2-0 start since the 2009-10 season, but it wasn't easy.
The Saints blew a 10-point second-half lead and were taken into overtime by Norwell in a physical, hard-fought game.
But perseverance paid off, something that has not always been the case in recent years for Bishop Dwenger.
When the Knights took a two-point lead in overtime, a three-point play by Marcus Stepp regained the lead for the Saints (2-0).
When Norwell (1-1) tied it at 58 a minute later, Dwenger responded again with a bucket from Mike Fiacable and a pair of free throws from Kyle Hartman.
Plays like that late in games help support the opinion of many that the Saints can finish over .500 for the first time in four years and compete for their first SAC crown since 2007.
Senior Grady Eifert led the Saints with 16 while senior Jeff Mugg added 13.
Norwell was paced by junior Austin Hayden's 20 points and senior David Vogel's 14.
“Our confidence is good, we just don't want to get too high,” senior Grady Eifert said. “We just want to stay mellow and not get too excited.”
Fiacable finished with just six points, but Kostoff spoke well of his senior leader.
“From Day One of basketball practice he has taken the team over,” Kostoff said. “That's nothing against the other guys, it's just the type of kid Mike is and the kids feed off him.”
There is still plenty of progress to be made for Kostoff's team, especially as football players continue to adjust to the hardcourt.
“In a week or two, I'm sure we are going to flow through a little bit quicker,” Kostoff said. “That's what practice is for.”
One transformation that has already happened is the change from inexperienced talent to proven leaders, an aspect of the Saints that was on display Tuesday.
“With our leadership, it would have been a lot tougher (to win last year),” Eifert said. “(The game) probably could have gone either way; I'm not going to say we (would have lost), but it would have been different.”
BISHOP DWENGER 64, NORWELL 61, OT
Bishop Dwenger 15*11*20*8*10*64
Bishop Dwenger: Marcus Stepp 10, Kyle Hartman 9, Grady Eifert 16, Ryan Christman 8, Mike Fiacable 6, Noah Freimuth 2, Jeff Mugg 13.
Norwell: Brent Bales 8, Jordan Dickey 1, Austin Hayden 20, David Vogel 14, Piercen Harnish 11, Drew Shively 7.