GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The first time Grand Rapids Catholic Central met South Christian this season, it took a last second prayer from junior Jack Karasinski with shades of Christian Laettner's buzzer-beater in 1990.
On Saturday, the matchup lived up to the hype yet again.
The Cougars entered a perfect 8-0 on the season while the Sailors came in at 7-1 with the lone loss coming to TJ Meerman's squad.
South Christian would lead nearly all of the first half, taking a 27-21 lead into intermission.
However, in the third quarter the Cougars turned it up a bit, outscoring South Christian 18-7, behind a big quarter from junior Jack Karasinski, who had eight in the frame.
Down the stretch, the game would go back-and-forth with South Christian taking a 45-42 lead with just 2:45 left after an Elliott Grashuis tip in.
With just 13 seconds left, the Cougars would trail 46-44 when Cougars sophomore guard Kaden Brown attempted a corner three and was fouled.
He would step to the line and knock down all three to give Catholic Central the 47-46 lead.
The Cougars would knock down two more free throws in the final two seconds.
After two timeouts, the Sailors would get an outstanding look beyond the arc for the tie but couldn't convert as the Cougars win it, 49-46 behind a 19 point effort from Brown, including the clutch free throws down the stretch.
"This season, I haven't shot very well from the free throw line," Brown admitted after the game, "the first time we played them, I missed a big free throw late and they hit a three to go up by one."
However, his mindset changed with his big free throws on Saturday.
Sophomore Kaden Brown scored a clutch 19 points this afternoon in @goCCcougars' 49-46 win over South Christian.— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) February 28, 2021
Trailing by two, he was fouled on a three-point attempt with just 13 seconds left & knocked down all three at the line to put Catholic Central in front. 👇🔥 pic.twitter.com/TUlQhIbNmU
"I went to the line and in my head I'm thinking, 'I've got to hit these,'" he added, "I just stayed poised and made it happen."
And head coach TJ Meerman couldn't be happier with his team taking a two game lead in the conference standings.
"For our guys to come in on the road and play in this place against a really good team in South, they really battled, our guys gutted this one out tonight," Meerman said.
The Cougars improve to 9-0 on the season while the Sailors fall to 7-2.