|3 NBA Prospects End Epic Battle in Chicago|
Chicago, IL - The South side of Chicago was the scene of yet another violent struggle. Chicago State Cougars and the Utah Valley Wolverines both came, saw, and shot the lights out of the Jones Convocation center at Chicago State University. Both teams left blood and sweat on the floor. This epic battle that will surely be remembered for ages saw the rise of three players that you will see on TV in the coming years after they’ve left the college stage.
It was 11PM and I had just arrived home. I was still in utter disbelief as I sat and stared at the score card from Thursday nights fight at the Jones Convocation Center where two teams, the Chicago State Cougars and the Utah Valley University Wolverines, battled it out. In this game three men lead their teams; one to victory and two to defeat.
The final shot of the game would lead to the end of the 4th OT. Yes, the fourth overtime. The final shot would lead to questions, history, and the future of Ryan Toolson (63 pts.) of Utah Valley, David Holston (41 pts.) and John Cantrell (40 pts.) of Chicago State.
The contest started out with Chicago State’s Nemanja Stankovic (F) tipping the ball to Carl Montgomery (F) for the two handed dunk. The Cougars
applied a thick full court press that then lead to Chicago State’s David Holston (G) following up the dunk with a 3 point shot and a lay-up for a 7-0 start to the game. The Cougars appeared to be handling the Wolverines easily. But like a wolverine in the wild, Utah Valley was only beginning to show its teeth.
Utah Valley University would not allow the Chicago State Cougars to slip away with Utah Valley’s own NBA prospect Ryan Toolson lighting up the court with all night long 18-31 FG, 7-11 3-PT and 20-21 at the free throw line, and 12 rebounds.
The game was a see-saw battle all night long with the lead changing hands 11 times along with the score being tied 19 times.
The Chicago State Cougars went into the half up by 2 points, 36-34, but the second half would see the Chicago State Cougars lose the lead and see the game start to slip away. With 3:01 left to play in the game the Chicago State Cougars were down 64-73. At this point Ryan Toolson (UV) had already registered 39 points and David Holston (CS) had 24 points. Over the next 3 minutes David Holston scored 10 points to tie the game. Regulation play would end in a 79-79 tie, Ryan Toolson (UV) scoring a total of 41 points, David Holston (CS) 34 points, and John Cantrell (CS) adding 14 points.
David Holston and Ryan Toolson continued to make the game a thriller. Ryan Toolson put 22 points on the board in all overtimes (4OT) while David Holston fouled out in the 1st OT and it seemed as though Chicago State’s hopes along with their leader would be sidelined, but that was not the case.
In regulation play John Cantrell had 14 points, however would end the game with 40 points. Yes, that is correct. In the 4OT’s and (20 minutes) Chicago State’s John Cantrell would score 26 points. After the first OT John Cantrell had 18 points, so that means that within 15 minutes of play, this CSU senior rained in 22 points!
With 3 seconds left in the 3rd OT and the score tied at 114, John Cantrell let a 3-PT shot loose and it was obvious to everyone in attendance (1264) that he was fouled on the shot, however the officials were not going to allow the game to be won on an officials call. So, the game headed into the 4th OT. John Cantrell had put on his CSU cape and shown the true colors of a warrior.
In the 4th OT the Chicago State Cougars continued to fight the Utah Valley Wolverines. By this time it was clear that this game would surely go down as one of the best college games in history. Period. So, no matter the outcome, both teams would come away winners.
Still, there is only one winner in college basketball unlike football, ala Donovan McNabb.
With 1:30 left to play in the game Ryan Toolson drove the ball to the hoop and scored on a reverse lay-up and got the foul. Toolson nailed down the free-throw and took the lead with 121-119. John Cantrell got the ball at the foul line and hit a foul line jump shot and again tied the score at 121-121. Could the game possibly go into a 5th OT? Not if the refs would have the final say. With 45 seconds left in the game the Chicago State Cougars took the ball down the court with the game now tied. John Cantrell would have an opportunity to win the game. Instead, his turn around jump shot rimmed and missed.
Ryan Toolson scooped up the rebound with 25 seconds left in the game and passed the ball down the court. Ryan Toolson was passed the ball with 5 seconds left. He was sure to again, show his teeth, and take the final shot. Toolson drove to the hoop on the right side for a lay-up, but was met with opposition by CSU’s Marquis Young (C) who “blocked” his shot. However, the referee ended the game by calling goal-tending on Marquis Young. Yes, that is how the game ended, by the referee’s call.
Did the officiating crew just want to go home or was it really goal-tending? The shot looked to be on its way up. But without the media hype on the South side of Chicago and camera crews to boot, we will truly never know.
Chicago State lost this epic battle 123 – 121 on a goal-tending violation. But the truth to this loss is that Chicago State has risen along with the emergence of David Holston and John Cantrell. These two Chicago State University basketball standouts will more than likely excel in the NBA in years to come. And it’s not surprising to me as other standouts such as the San Antonio Spurs' George Hill, drafted in the lottery, played against David Holston and Chicago State just this last year. That too, was a great battle seeing CSU lose.
“It was an exciting game to be a part of and I’m disappointed that I fouled out. I think I let my team down when I fouled out. Toolson is a great player and a great guy. You can’t give him a look at the hoop. He doesn’t miss at all.” – David Holston
“We thought we had the game in regulation, but Holston made sure that they came back. The game was back and forth….it really was the toughest, hard fought game I’ve ever been in...I think it’s sad to see the stands empty for a guy (Holston) who’s in the top 5 scoring in the nation.” – Ryan Toolson
So, as I lay in my bed, visions of CSU’s standouts Holston and Cantrell in the NBA danced in my head along with their heroic play. This game will be remembered for a long time. And forever by Chicago.