Sigma Pi deliver in All-University Championship
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 03:03
With Thursday night’s All-University championship game tied at 38 with 15 seconds left, Sigma Pi’s Victor Otto made a play that will be talked about by his fraternity brothers for years to come.
The Scrubz had just scored to tie the game, and Sigma Pi was inbounding the ball under its own basket. With a five-second call nearing, Otto started streaking down the court and called for the ball like a receiver on a fly pattern.
Otto was well defended, but the pass was thrown anyway. He leaped in the air, caught it in traffic near half court and immediately threw a no-look pass over his shoulder as he fell to the ground.
Standing alone in the key, Russell Long-Thompson caught the pass and laid it in. Eleven seconds later, Andre Aicher of the Scrubz missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Sigma Pi fans rushed the court in celebration of their team’s two-point victory.
“I started to streak toward the hoop just to get some separation,” Otto said of the game-winning play. “I saw Russ was already down there, and I knew I just had to put it close to the hoop. I just kind of threw it over my shoulder.”
“I couldn’t believe it happened,” said teammate John Beitel. “It’s one of the craziest plays I’ve ever seen.”
While Otto made the play that won the game, Beitel was the only reason Sigma Pi was in a position to win in the first place.
The slender 6-foot-5 junior, who played his high school ball at Regis in Stayton, scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. When the Scrubz opened up a 30-23 lead midway through the second half, Beitel went on a 7-0 run by himself to pull Sigma Pi even.
“I know [Beitel] can turn it on like a light switch,” Otto said. “If he’s hot, we want to give him the ball. ‘Feed the giraffe,’ we say.”
“When it comes to big games,” Beitel said, “you have to put it all on the court.”
The Sigma Pi players said they were motivated by the lack of coverage they received in the Barometer this year. Sigma Pi was not listed among the Barometer’s top 25 intramural teams heading into the playoffs.
“It motivated us to prove [the Barometer] wrong,” Otto said. “Every time they talked about someone other than us, it made us even angrier.”
“We played with a chip on our shoulder,” added Beitel, who after the game said “better luck next year” to the Barometer reporter who made the rankings.
The Scrubz, on the other hand, were ranked sixth by the Barometer and had just upset top-seeded MinoTaurs in the non-Greek championship. Against Sigma Pi, they were led by Aicher (13 points) and Tyler Lewis (9 points).
Perhaps the turning point in the game came when the Scrubz’ John Tommasini, a former OSU baseball player, was called for a technical foul with three minutes remaining. The Scrubz trailed by three at the time, and had to play catch-up the rest of the way.
The Scrubz coach, OSU intramural basketball legend (and former OSU football player) Johnny Hekker of the St. Louis Rams, credited Sigma Pi after the game.
“They made some big shots, Beitel hit some big shots,” Hekker said. “They made more plays than we did down the stretch, but our guys are still champions in my book. They got the T-shirt [they received for winning non-Greek] to prove it.”
Several Scrubz players declined to comment after the game.
This marked the sixth year in the last seven that the All-U championship was won by a Greek/co-op team.
For Otto, a fifth-year senior, it was the perfect way to end a career.
“I’ve played five years, and my freshman year we made it to the Greek championship and lost, and the other three years we made it to the Greek semifinals,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to go out on top.”
Grady Garrett, sports reporter