Published April 5, 2007
The Cinderella story has come true. The 15th-seeded St. Thomas More School basketball team won the 2007 Catholic Metro League of Atlanta fifth-grade boys basketball championship with a thrilling, come-from-behind upset win in the final seconds over the previously unbeaten top seed, St. Peter Chanel Feb. 17. STM trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter before slowly chipping away at St. Peter Chanel’s lead. After cutting the lead to 35-34 with less than two minutes remaining, STM had momentum and multiple opportunities to take the lead but couldn’t get a shot to drop. St. Peter Chanel took possession of the ball on an out-of-bounds play underneath the STM basket with around seven seconds left in the game still holding a one point lead. All St. Peter Chanel needed to do was pass the ball inbound and run out the clock in order to claim the championship.
However, STM refused to give up. STM played an aggressive pressing defense on the inbounds pass. St. Peter Chanel tried to pass the ball to a player in the free throw lane, but STM’s John Kissell anticipated the pass, cut in front of the intended receiver, stole the ball and made a lay-up to win the game and give STM the championship. Ecstatic STM players, coaches and parents rushed onto the court with joy, hardly believing the turn of events.
No one expected the 15th seeded Tigers to win a championship.The team entered the tournament with a 5-5 record and had not beaten a team with a winning record all year. Remarkably, the Tigers trailed in four of their five tournament games, including three games where the deficit was eight or more points. The “Comeback Kids” were unflappable, showing gritty determination in overcoming all of these deficits.