WEST VALLEY CITY — On Thursday night, Team Fredette — coached by former BYU head coach Dave Rose — trailed by as many as 22 points, before rallying to defeat CitiTeam Blazers in The Basketball Tournament.
It was the kind of thrilling comeback that is rarely repeated, let alone on consecutive nights.
And yet, for much of Friday night’s TBT contest between Team Fredette and Team Challenge ALS, particularly late, it appeared Team Fredette would do it again.
After trailing by as many as 11 points early on, the hometown team rallied to take the lead late against No. 2-seeded Challenge ALS.
Tu Holloway, formerly of Xavier University, scored a game-high 29 points in the effort, including 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Team Fredette even pulled within a made field goal of victory in the final moments of the game.
It all proved for naught, however, as No. 2-seeded Team Challenge ALS defeated No. 3-seeded Team Fredette 83-80.
Marvelle Harris scored a team-high 22 points for Challenge ALS and Deshawn Stephens scored the game-winning basket, as Challenge ALS weathered the challenge from Team Fredette and secured a spot in the Salt Lake Regional final.
Stephens, formerly of San Diego State, scored nine points in the game and added 12 rebounds.
Sean Marshall (Boston College) and Marquez Haynes (UT Arlington) added 19 and 15 points, respectively in the win.
“We did this for them tonight,” Marshall said, speaking to the individuals whose names don the back of the Challenge ALS jerseys (the team sports the names of sufferers of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) as it hopes to raise awareness in the TBT).
Aside from Holloway, who nearly willed Team Fredette to victory, Devonta Pollard scored 13 points and Jordon Crawford added 11.
In earlier action Friday, No. 1-seeded Eberlein Drive defeated No. 5-seeded L.A. Cheaters 86-84 to earn a spot in the regional final.
Jerome Randle paced Eberlein Drive with 26 points, and, as he did in Thursday’s win over Team Utah, he hit the game-winner.
For the second day in a row, though, Eberlein Drive was forced to overcome a sluggish start, as the regional favorites fell behind by as many as eight points in the first quarter.
“We just are not playing with the intensity we need to play with,” Randle said. “I’m disappointed. We have to be better than that.”
Former Utah guard Sedrick Barefield played a significant role in the hot start for L.A. Cheaters, scoring seven of his 15 points in the opening 10 minutes.
Eberlein Drive eventually found its way back into the game, buoyed by the play of a couple former NBA players in Donald Sloan (Brooklyn Nets) and Keith Benson (Miami Heat), who finished with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
It was all Randle late, though, as the former California Golden Bear scored all eight of the points needed for Eberlein Drive to win the game with its Elam Ending.
Of his game-winner, during which he made short work of his L.A. Cheaters defender, the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year noted, “that guy was about 50, so if I couldn’t beat him off the dribble I shouldn’t be playing basketball.”
The victory puts Eberlein Drive within four victories of the tournament title, with it the $2 million dollar, win-take-all grand prize, but the team was in no mood to relish the win.
“We are better than this,” Randle said. “These guys are better than that and Team Challenge ALS are dogs. If we play like we have the past two days, tomorrow, we are going to lose by 20.”