Kyle Davis took a seat between Vee Sanford and Devin Oliver at the postgame press conference Saturday, leaned back and took a moment to say something that had been on his mind since 2014.
» PHOTOS: Red Scare vs. Mid-American Unity
“Hey, I never got to thank you all for my freshman NCAA run,” Davis said.
“You’re welcome, brother,” Oliver said. “Thanks for letting us watch you for three more years.”
Five years after the Dayton Flyers reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, Davis, Sanford, Oliver and Kendall Pollard — four members of that team — are turning back the clock in another tournament run with the help of two other former Flyers, Kevin Dillard and Darrell Davis, and former Ohio Northern star Ryan Bruns.
The Red Scare reached the sweet 16 of The Basketball Tournament on Saturday by beating Mid-American Unity 80-78, clinching the victory on a game-ending dunk by Oliver, who followed up a missed layup by Davis.
It was as good a finish as you will see and a great selling point for the Elam Ending, which adds eight points to the leading team’s score with under four minutes to play. The first team to the target score — it was 80 in this case — wins the game. Dayton would have lost this game if not for the Elam Ending, aggressive play by Davis, who grabbed the rebound after a missed 3-pointer by D.J. Cooper, and a memorable finish by Oliver.
“All I saw was a 2-on-1,” Davis said. “I knew the rest of the team was following me. If I’m right, Darrell was on my left-hand side. Just get to the bucket. I knew somebody was going to clean it up.”
“As soon as I saw him get the rebound, I know how he plays,” Oliver said. “He saw he had numbers. I’m taking him, going 2-on-1. He’s good at finishing that. I just followed behind, man, trying to get a tip. It ended up being there, and it came off in a perfect way. I tried to get my old legs up in the air to finish it to end the game.”
An arena full of Dayton fans for the second straight day erupted as Oliver raced the other way. His teammates didn’t catch up until he reached the other baseline.
Oliver, who scored a team-high 22 points, then got the honor of taking the placard with the Red Scare name and placing it in the next round on the bracket that stood behind one end of the court. Hours later, Carmen’s Crew, a team of former Ohio State Buckeyes, did the same. They beat Big X 89-75 in the second game.
» FIRST-ROUND PHOTOS: Red Scare beats The Region
The Red Scare will play Carmen’s Crew at noon Sunday in the Columbus Regional final. The winner advances to the quarterfinals in Chicago. The final three rounds of the $2 million winner-takes-all tournament take place Aug. 1-6.
Sunday’s game will bring back memories for Dayton and Ohio State fans. It’s a rematch of sorts from the 2014 NCAA tournament. Dayton beat Ohio State 60-59 in the first round in Buffalo. Vee Sanford made the game-winning bank shot over Craft with 3.8 seconds to play. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, with Oliver guarding him, then missed at the final buzzer as his college career ended.
Sanford and Craft, who scored 11 points for Carmen’s Crew, will meet again Sunday.
“It will be cool,” Sanford said. “I played against Aaron in France. He played in Monaco a few years ago. They have a really good team, a really physical team. David Lighty is a really good guard. There’s Will Buford. We’re familiar with these guys, playing with them overseas. It will be fun. It will be interesting. The UD fans, the Ohio State fans, it’s going to be a sold-out game.”