It was a good week to be a Carroll. If you're from Seattle and go by the name Pete, then you're most likely putting a shine to your newly won Lombardi Trophy. If you're a little closer to home and go by John Carroll, you've just turned away Ohio Athletic Conference foe, Heidelberg 76-70.
Unlike the lackluster "contest" played in this year's Super Bowl, Heidelberg actually brought passion, energy and excitement to Thursday night's game.
The only problem was its opponent brought the same gifts to the party.
After a controversial 102-93 double overtime loss earlier this year, Heidelberg was out for revenge, but knowing exactly what the Student Princes are capable of, John Carroll coach Mike Moran made sure his team was prepared.
"We definitely didn't take them lightly," Moran said. "I mean you look at some of the top teams these guys have played and hung right in there the whole game, just like tonight a couple possessions here or there and it could have been a different story."
Despite a noticeable difference in each team's record, John Carroll was not about to be caught off guard.
"Their record doesn't accurately represent how tough of a team they are," Moran said. "We knew it was going to be a battle, we went into double overtime the last time we faced so how can you not take a team like that seriously."
With a bad taste still in his mouth over questionable officiating calls from their previous meeting, Heidelberg coach Andy Bucheit wanted the victory he felt was taken from his team.
"With the help of outside factors we feel like they stole one from us, so we had to take that loss on the chin," Bucheit said. "Bottom line, the officials made a bad call which cost us the game, so no doubt about it we were out for revenge."
Plans, as good as they seem don't always work out though. The game started on a sour note for Heidelberg as John Carroll's David Hendrickson took the tipoff right to the hoop.
It was a back-and-forth first half with multiple lead changes. At one point John Carroll was out in front by nine points. Unlike the cars outside in the icy cold and slippery conditions, Heidelberg soon gained traction and found itself within two points to end the half.
John Carroll came out on fire in the second half, never losing the lead and actually jumping out ahead by 15 at one point. Despite pure passion, strong fan support, and the desire for revenge, whatever traction Heidelberg had gained in the first half was quickly lost as the Student Princes had problems handling the ball and things started to fall apart.
"We wanted to try to control the things we could, and we just weren't able to do that," Bucheit said. "We definitely had some missed shots and problems hanging on to the ball, one of the things we wanted to control were turnovers; we had 17 and a lot of those resulted in points for them."
Turnovers were just the beginning as poor shooting plagued Heidelberg as well,
"We gave them way too many points that they should not have had," Bucheit said. "Mike (Petrie) went 2 for 12 and Keith (Mackie) shot 2 for 9, a lot of those were open shots that they were capable of making and they just didn't connect."
A loss, while never a good thing, also shouldn't be something players dwell upon too long. It's a lesson that Heidelberg has learned after a year of tough losses.
"We have four games in the next seven days, so this loss really doesn't matter at this point," Buchiet said. "It's over with, it's done. Now we need to move on."
Even with a less-than-stellar record, Heidelberg's hopes of playing in the OAC Tournament are still very well alive.
"Theoretically all we need to do is beat Otterbein and Muskingum, and they need to lose the rest of their games and we are in," Bucheit said. "We don't wanna roll the dice and hope that situation plays out, so were gonna have to steal one from Marietta, Mount Union, Ohio Northern or Baldwin Wallace rather then sit back and hope everything falls into place."
Heidelberg is very optimistic of its chances to make it into the OAC Tournament. Bucheit believes his team can hang with the best of them.
"We know the scenario that needs to happen so we are looking to steal one from Marietta, that's what's in our sights. Really all we are concerned with now is playing in the OAC tournament," Bucheit said. "If we can just get in, we are very very dangerous, we've proven that, we've lost by three to Mount Union and by two to Marietta, and those two schools are sitting at No. 1 and 2 at the top of the conference."
The numbers do not lie - Bucheit feels his team has a more than realistic chance of beating any team on the right day.
"We've lost most our games by such a small margin it's not unrealistic to think we can pull off an upset," Bucheit said. "All we have to do is stay positive, stay enthusiastic and play with a lot of energy everyday, good things are going to happen for us, I keep telling these guys and they really believe it and believe in themselves. We just need to catch a break."