The Holiday Hardwood classic officially tipped off today at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University, with eight games spread out across two days.
Tipping things off on day one was La Salle out of the GCL and ECC stalwart Turpin. The Spartans led 11-4 at the end of the first quarter but a rousing second-frame rally by La Salle led the Lancers to a 26-22 halftime lead.
There was a brief skirmish at the end of the first half after Turpin senior guard Brady Hardewig released a half-court shot at the buzzer and appeared to be shoved from behind by a La Salle player. Coaches quickly intervened and de-escalated the situation before it really began.
The third quarter was relatively even, with Turpin turning a four-point halftime deficit into a tie game, 40-40, headed into the final frame. The Spartans ended the third making their final five shots. The fourth quarter was a flurry of action, with a back-and-forth seesaw affair that ended with a missed three-pointer from Nick Heffron with 0.4 seconds remaining. Turpin grabbed the defensive rebound and ran off the remaining seconds to secure the victory. With the win, Turpin snapped a three-game losing streak against the Lancers.
With the win, La Salle falls to 4-3 while Turpin improves to 7-1. La Salle will return to action this Friday, Dec. 30 at home again Trotwood-Madison. Turpin will take a week off before a Jan. 3 game at home against Kings.
"[La Salle] is a very good team and they have a lot of young talent," Turpin head coach Josh Slonim said after the game. "They haven't just beaten us, they've out-toughed us the past couple of years. We needed to match that intensity. If we do that, we feel confident that we have the best player every time we take the floor, and always have a chance to win in that regard. This win was about [Hardewig] taking over the game offensively."
Hardewig led all scorers with 29 points, including six three-pointers and was named the Beacon/TriHealth Player of the Game.
"I came in hot because we were 0-3 against La Salle," Hardewig said after the game. We'd never beaten them. So I had a chip on my shoulder to start. Once I hit that first three, I felt that every shot was going to go in. They'd been punking us the past three years, beat us every time. Me and my dogs out there weren't gonna take that this time, we are going to fight until the bitter end."