LIVONIA - Lourdes led by nine at the break on Saturday afternoon in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference semifinals, but 15th-ranked Madonna went on a 14-2 run to start the second half and defeated the Gray Wolves 56-50 at the Activities Center in Livonia, Mich.
The loss was the first this season for the Gray Wolves when leading at intermission.
"This was a tough loss," head coach Andre Smith said afterwards. "The game is two halves. We came out strong in the first half but they made adjustments at the break. I told our guys they'd make a run and they did."
Both teams started quickly from the floor, scoring on the first three possessions of the game. An 8-0 run by the Gray Wolves pushed the advantage to 13-7 five minutes into the game following a jumper by Corey Harvey (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson H.S.).
Madonna clawed back, cutting the lead to two, 19-17, with 9:36 to play in the opening stanza. Lourdes defense tightened the rest of the stanza though, holding the Crusaders to just two points the rest of the way.
A three-pointer by Elvin Butler (Akron, Ohio/East H.S.) pushed the Gray Wolves lead to seven and a Ken Smith (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook H.S.) lay-in in the final minute gave Lourdes a 28-19 lead at halftime.
"We had great energy that first half," Andre Smith added. "We knocked down shots and only committed two turnovers."
Madonna came out the second half scoring 14 of the first 16 points to take a 33-30 lead with 13:49 to play in the game following a Bobby Naubert three-pointer. Naubert, the WHAC Player of the Year, scored 20 of his 22 points in the final stanza.
"The MVP of the league definitely took over the game," Andre Smith stated.
Lourdes still trailed by three with under 10 minutes to play when Zach Wedesky banked home a three-pointer as the shot clock expired and Naubert followed with another triple on the next possession to push the lead to nine, 46-37, at the 8:30 mark. The Crusaders eventually extended the advantage to 11, 51-40, before the Gray Wolves went on one final run.
Jerome Talton (East Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw H.S.) hit a jumper and Alex Davis (Cleveland, Ohio/Nordonia H.S.) followed with three straight points to bring the Gray Wolves within six at the 2:30 mark.
Lourdes got forced three straight missed shots but the Crusaders pulled down the offensive rebound each time before the Gray Wolves had to foul.
"The second shots killed us late," Andre Smith added. "They weren't converting but were taking lots of time off of the clock."
Madonna made five of six free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
Lourdes shot just 25% in the second half after connecting at a 46% clip in the opening half. The Gray Wolves also finished with 10 second half turnovers.
Davis led Lourdes with 10 points and seven rebounds while Ken Smith scored eight points off of the bench. Dorel Sutherland pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Naubert, with his 22 points, was the only Crusader to score in double figures while Fred Williams and Travis Schuba each added nine points.
"I think we deserve a bid to the national tournament," Andre Smith concluded. "We finished third in a difficult league with 22 wins overall. We just have to wait and see.
Lourdes (22-9) will find out whether or not it earned an at-large bid to the NAIA Division II national championships on Wednesday evening when the pairings are announced.