Thrilling finish in TBT Championship Game as Boeheim’s Army earns $1 million with 69-67 win

Keifer Sykes (No. 28) is lifted on his teammates shoulders after sinking the TBT-winning shot for Boeheim’s Army in Tuesday’s narrow 69-67 win. Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon, TBT.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

Tuesday’s thrilling championship game of The Basketball Tournament at UD Arena culminated in a clutch three pointer by Keifer Sykes of Boeheim’s Army to clinch a 69-67 win over Team 23 to win TBT and $1 million. 

With legendary current Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim in the arena, the basketball was all over the place in an antsy start, with several tipped passes during the opening minutes of the game. When the first quarter media timeout arrived after a foul with 3:59 left in the quarter, Team 23 held a 10-6 advantage on the scoreboard, also leading field goal percentage 50 to 30 percent.

An ice-cold step-back three from Tyrese Rice helped Boeheim’s Army start to overcome a slow start from the field and a layup by Keifer Sykes gave the mostly Syracuse alumni an 18-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Boeheim’s Army continued to push ahead, building their lead up to 30-25 with 3:24 left in the first half at the second quarter media timeout. Boeheim’s Army’s aggression on the offensive boards was a key factor in their lead, as they led offensive rebounds 7-4.

A big and-1 dunk late in the first half was converted at the line by Chris McCullough (9 points, 9 rebounds), putting Boeheim’s Army ahead 33-32 at halftime. 

At the break, both teams were pretty even in key shooting statistics: 43 to 41 percent field goal percentage in favor of Team 23 and 31 to 30 percent on three pointers in favor of Boeheim’s Army. But Boeheim’s Army did lead offensive rebounds (8-5) and rebounds (21-16) to help give them the halftime lead. 

Team 23 opened the third quarter with a quick 6-0 run, punctuated by a nasty crossover a 3-pointer by Dakarai Tucker to give Team 23 a 40-35 lead and force a timeout by Boeheim’s Army.

The next four minutes were mainly back-and-forth, and Team 23 led 46-44 at the third quarter media timeout with 2:48 left in the quarter, but Boeheim’s Army had a chance to tie the game with 2 free throws on the other side of the timeout.

Tyler Lydon made both free throws, but Boeheim’s Army went nearly three minutes without a made field goal, allowing Team 23 to grow their lead to 54-50 at the end of the third quarter.

Team 23 pushed their lead up to 58-52, but Boeheim’s Army then went on a 7-0 run to take a 59-58 lead. Both teams would get two more points to send the championship game into the Elam Ending with Boeheim’s Army in front 61-60 with 69 set as the target score for $1 million.

Boeheim’s Army got the Elam Ending started with three free throws, but Team 23 answered with two. The Syracuse alumni got a layup to fall, but Team 23 once again responded with a big three to make the score 66-65.

Two more free throws by Team 23 gave them the lead by one and in need of two to win, but after a few chaotic possessions, Keifer Sykes (21 points, 7-11 field goals, 3-6 three pointers) activated his clutch gene for a step-over three that swished in to give Boeheim’s Army a 69-67 win to conquer TBT and earn $1 million. D.J. Kennedy (11 points, 8 rebounds) earned his fifth TBT championship with the win.

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