COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Thursday, everything looked stacked against Herd That in the waning minutes of its Round of 16 battle with The Money Team.
Herd That trailed by nine going to the Elam Ending — a deficit which had never been overcome in the tournament’s history.
Still, the Marshall-based alumni team stuck to its gameplan, which was to believe in each other.
Together, they overcame a team with former NBA talent, producing a 16-2 run to end the game in the most epic comeback in TBT history.
The result shocked everyone ... that is, except for Herd That’s team members.
“It’s credit to the unselfishness and selflessness of our guys to make winning plays,” said Herd That guard Jon Elmore.
It wasn’t just that they won, although that was eye-opening enough to many.
It was how they won.
The Money Team came out in the first half and tried to bully Herd That on each end, building an 18-point lead after one quarter.
In the end, it was Herd That who showed its toughness, making the winning plays down the stretch.
“That goes into the hard work that we put in, the type of guys we have and the way we play,” Jon Elmore said. “You’re going to hit us and you’re going to talk, but at the end of the day, until that final horn goes off, it’s anybody’s ballgame when we’re on the court. We fought the whole game.”
Elmore finished with 10 assists — his final one being a dish through the lane to Ryan Luther, who absorbed contact from 7-footer Thomas Welsh to finish a driving layup that completed the comeback.
Down the stretch, it wasn’t about 3-pointers for Herd That, which is what they are known for.
It was about grit and toughness and an ability to finish at the rim, too.
Prior to Luther’s game-winner, JaCorey Williams scored on a dunk that gave Herd That its first lead at 100-99 with many of the points in the final period coming with the team attacking the rim.
The supposed team of shooters is finding its way to the rim consistently in its two wins.
In terms of points in the paint, Herd That followed up a plus-24 outing against Peoria All-Stars with a plus-18 mark in the win over The Money Team on Thursday, proving that there is more to the team than just shooters.
There is an underdog’s edge that starts with guard and general manager Ot Elmore, who was active both verbally and on the court on Thursday.
“I’m going to do what it takes to win and our team’s going to do what it takes to win,” Ot Elmore said. “As you all see, we’re out here having fun. Those guys played in the NBA. I play at the Y. But I ain’t backing up. We’re here and they’re going to have to prove it to me.”
The grit of Herd That gets its toughest test yet in Saturday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal when the team meets Overseas Elite, who is a four-time champion of TBT.
Overseas Elite features NBA guard Joe Johnson and talented point guard Pooh Jeter, as well, but does not return former Marshall and Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane nor D.J. Kennedy from the successful nucleus of the past.
Still, with scorers like Johnson, Jeter and other experienced TBT players, Herd That will have its hands full to move into the semifinals.
This will be the ultimate David-vs.-Goliath matchup in TBT, but Herd That plans to approach it the same way they do every game.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got guys that can make plays,” Jon Elmore said. “I don’t care what your resume is, where you played, how much money you made. When you step in between those lines and the lights are on, all that stuff’s out the window and you’re going to have to show us.”