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There are wins where one player completely takes over the game and leads the squad to victory and there are wins where it is a total team effort.
Snider's 53-49 victory over Wayne to advance to the SAC Boys Holiday Tournament championship certainly fit the latter.
Over the course of a hard-fought four quarters, the Panthers (5-3) got contributions from all over. From 6-foot-9 freshman Malik Williams starting due to an illness to junior Logan Godfrey to Devlyn Williams' clutch shooting to the coaching staff breaking out a new-look defense in the second half that completely flummoxed the Generals.
The second-seeded Panthers advance to play top seed North Side in the tournament championship at 7 p.m. today at Wayne High School.
“Our game plan was we wanted to keep it close in the first half,” Snider coach John Todor said. “We wanted to get to that second half and wanted to put on our gimmick defense.”
The defense thoroughly confused the Generals, with three players playing man-to-man on the perimeter and a matchup zone in the middle to collapse if the ball got into the paint. After Justin Mitchell dropped 12 points in the first half, No. 3 seed Wayne led by six at the break, the Panthers knew they had to do something different.
“We put (Malik Williams) on the block and said, 'Come at us,'” Todor said. “The risk was they (would) hit their (outside) shots but they missed a few thank goodness and we just got the job done.”
Wayne (5-2) suffered through serious foul trouble which forced Coach Aaron Rehrer to be liberal with his substitutions. That forced the Generals to play passive at times while Snider was more aggressive.
After missing several easy layups in the first half, Malik Williams settled down and finished with a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He also drew a key charge with 1:13 left in the game with the Panthers down one.
From a freshman to a senior, Halstead finished with 13 points, including five in the final 17 seconds. He hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc to put Snider ahead by two, then after a backcourt violation on the Generals was fouled and drilled a pair of free throws to put the game away.
“That's what seniors do,” Todor said. “He's been a four-year varsity player and he hit a big shot at a big moment then some free throws.
“That's what seniors are supposed to do, step up at the right time and want the ball and want the big shot. He wanted it and got it.”
Devlyn Williams also came up big in big spots and finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Panthers now advance to their first SAC Holiday Tournament championship game since 2008. They have not won the event since 2005.
Snider avenged an earlier loss to Wayne, now it has a chance to do the same against top-seeded North Side on Saturday night.
“Our guys really want to play North Side, they caught us on a night we didn't play well (in a 68-46 loss),” Todor said. “We have our hands full tomorrow. They have 7-8 guys that are 7-8 of the best guys in the city and we're going to have to beat them as a whole team.”
Meanwhile, the Redskins got 18 points from Tre'Vion Crews and 14 from Jeremy Jones to hand the Saints their first loss of the season.
North Side used a 24-10 second quarter to turn a two-point deficit into a 12-point lead at halftime.
No. 4 seed Bishop Dwenger (5-1) was able to cut into the lead significantly in the second half and got to within six, but was never able to get any closer.
Oosha Mitchell was a force inside for the Redskins (7-0) as Mike Davis battled foul trouble. Mitchell finished with 10 rebounds and five blocks, along with several altered shots as Bishop Dwenger had trouble with his 6-foot-5 size in the paint.
Mitchell finished with just six points, but his three-pointer that pushed the lead back to 10 with 3:31 remaining was huge to stymie a Bishop Dwenger rally.
Sean McGee added 12 points off the bench for North Side and Myluv Sutton contributed 11.
Bishop Dwenger was led by Kyle Hartman's 13 points and Mike Fiacable's 11.
North Side advances to its first SAC Tournament title game since 2006, which is also the last time the Redskins won the event.
The SAC Tournament is sponsored by SportOne Ortho Northeast.