Freeman’s three-bomb stuns Spartans

Sam Freeman's three-pointer with 8.4 seconds left lifted the UFV Cascades to a stunning 81-80 victory on Thursday over Trinity Western

Sam Freeman's three-pointer with 8.4 seconds left lifted the UFV Cascades to a stunning 81-80 victory on Thursday over Trinity Western

For Sam Freeman and the UFV Cascades, March madness arrived a couple days early.Freeman’s three-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining lifted the Cascades to a stunning 81-80 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans on Thursday in Game 1 of their best-of-three Canada West men’s basketball playoff series. The seventh-seeded Cascades had trailed by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter at Langley Events Centre, but closed the game on a torrid 15-0 run to upset the Spartans, seeded second in Canada West and ranked No. 4 nationally.Freeman called his game-winner the biggest shot he’s made in his life.”It’s crazy – nothing can top this right now,” he said with a grin. “Nobody was in my face, and you have to hit that shot. You have to. It’s as simple as that.”The Cascades came bursting out of the gate on Thursday, building a 20-12 lead in the first quarter behind some hot shooting from Zeon Gray and Joel Friesen. But the Spartans found their rhythm, and Danny Horner’s three-pointer gave the hosts a 41-38 lead at halftime. The much taller Trinity squad dominated in the rebounding department in the third quarter, stretching the lead to double digits. UFV clawed its way back to within 68-66 on back-to-back three-pointers from Gray, but Trinity responded with a 12-0 run to claim a seemingly rock-solid 80-66 advantage.But the Spartans didn’t score a point after that, as the Cascades locked it down on defence and chipped away at the lead. In the waning seconds, Freeman found some daylight on the right wing and calmly stroked the go-ahead trey.”I think our whole team knew when it came out of his hands where it was going,” Cascades coach Barnaby Craddock said. “He’s a confident shooter.”Inbounding at halfcourt, the Spartans still had plenty of time left, but they never got a shot off. The Cascades had fouls to give, and they gave two to run the clock down to 3.1 seconds. On TWU’s third inbounds play, the play broke down and Kyle Coston threw the ball directly to Freeman, who dribbled out the clock.”We have a knack for big comebacks somehow,” Craddock said, referencing his team’s rally from a 23-point halftime deficit at Victoria last season. “It’s a credit to the guys on the team. They have big hearts, and they don’t quit. You can’t coach that.”Gray (26 points on 11-of-17 shooting) and Friesen (23 points on 6-of-9 shooting) had efficient offensive performances for the Cascades, while Freeman finished with 18 points.Spartans superstar Jacob Doerksen, a Rick Hansen Secondary grad, paced TWU with 24 points.”I thought we played a little bit tight in the second half,” Craddock said. “But when we were down 14, it was like the weight of the world was off our shoulders. All of a sudden, we played loose again.”Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) go Friday and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. both nights.The Cascades women open their best-of-three playoff series on the road against the Winnipeg Wesmen tonight.