Rountree, Gael Nation edged in second round of TBT

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Southern Durham High product Julian Gamble hit a game-winning free throw to invoke the “Elam Ending” and send Armored Athlete to a 75-73 victory over Gael Nation in the second round of The Basketball Tournament at Steinberg Wellness Center.

Aaron Rountree, a product of Greenfield School before embarking on a collegiate career at Wake Forest and Iona as a graduate transfer, was part of the “Gael Nation” team in the four-region, 72-team bracket with a winner-take-all prize of $2 million.

Placed in the Northeast region of the bracket, Gael Nation, the No. 5 seed in the region played two games on consecutive days over the weekend. They defeated No. 12 Sideline Cancer 100-88 before losing a 17-point lead Sunday and bowing in a thrilling two-point loss to Armored Athlete, the No. 4 seed.

The tournament, made up of largely college basketball alumni and professional players, is played under college rules with four nine-minute quarters. However, instead of a running clock all the way through, a modified format called the Elam Ending is used to finish games in the 2018 TBT. Devised by Dr. Nick Elam, the format turns off the game clock at the first dead ball with under four minutes remaining. From that point, the team in the lead must score seven more points to win the game, while the trailing team must also reach that target score to come from behind to win.

Following a slow start from Gaels Nation in the opening quarter, it heated up to make six 3-point shots in the second quarter. The team went 8 of 17 from beyond the arc in the first half, building a 40-25 halftime lead.

But that lead gradually dissipated in the third quarter as Armored Athlete outpaced Gael Nation 34-16 in the third quarter. Gael Nation, which typically used four guards in tournament play, went just 3 of 15 from long range in the second half.

With the Elam Ending in effect at 75 points, Gaels Nation trailed 74-69 before A.J. English hit a 3-pointer to trim it to 74-72. But from 74-73, Gael Nation’s Sean Armand was whistled for a foul on Gamble along the baseline, sending Armored Athletes to the foul line in the bonus. Gamble sank the first free throw, ending the game.

Gael Nation converted 27 of 73 field goals for 37 percent accuracy, while Armored Athlete was 31 of 66 for a 47-percent clip.

Each team had four players in double figures, with Gamble, a former Miami Hurricane, logging a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds to go along with five blocks. Armand led all scorers with 20 points.

Rountree logged 10 minutes in Sunday’s game, getting one rebound and one steal.

In Saturday’s game, Rountree tallied five points, four rebounds and a pair of assists off the bench as Gael Nation blistered the nets for 16 3-pointers on 34 attempts.