The Basketball Tournament: Red Scare gets boost from sixth man in stands en route to quarterfinals

Dayton alumni team will play West Virginia alums, including former Flyer Juwan State, at 9 p.m. Friday

Jon Mugar remained at UD Arena long after the fans and teams departed Wednesday night. The founder and CEO of The Basketball Tournament watched the end of the 2022 TBT’s first quarterfinal — the only one not being held at UD Arena — on a TV in a lounge turned into a TBT communications room.

The Aftershocks, a Wichita State alumni team, completed a 74-67 victory over the Gutter Cats in Wichita, Kan., to earn a trip to the semifinals Saturday in Dayton.

Not every TBT team has ties to a specific school, but it’s a unique feature of the tournament. Three of the teams playing in quarterfinals Friday at UD Arena are alumni teams. Blue Collar U (Buffalo) plays Heartfire at 7 p.m. The Red Scare (Dayton) plays Best Virginia (West Virginia) at 9 p.m.

The Red Scare, who had never won more than two games in one tournament, reached new ground with their third victory of the week Wednesday and could make TBT history this weekend and next week if they reach the championship game of the $1 million winner-takes-all tournament Tuesday.

“We’ve never been in a situation where the host team has a chance to run the table for six straight games,” Mugar said. “It never would have entered our minds that this would have been a possibility, but seeing them beat two incredible teams these last two days and get through that first-round game, it sort of blows us away.”

The No. 3 seed Red Scare beat No. 6 CitiTeam 75-70 on Sunday, the No. 2 Golden Eagles 62-56 on Tuesday and the No. 1 The Money Team 83-81 on Wednesday.

Best Virginia has a 6-2 record in three TBT appearances. It was 1-1 in 2019 and 2-1 last year. It entered the 2020 tournament as well but had to withdraw because of positive COVID tests. This week, it beat Virginia Dream 75-45, Herd That (Marshall) 89-79 and the Bucketneers (East Tennessee State) 63-62 to reach the quarterfinals.

The Best Virginia roster includes Dayton native Juwan Staten, who played one season at Dayton (2010-11) and three seasons at West Virginia. He’s averaging 6.3 points in three games. The team’s top scorer, forward Kevin Jones (15.0 points per game), scored 1,822 points (2008-12) in his West Virginia career.

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The Dayton Flyers alumni team is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the tournament. Five No. 1 seeds, and two No. 2 seeds also reached the quarterfinals.

The Aftershocks played at home in their first four games. Best Virginia played in their home state, in Charleston, if not on their old home court in Morgantown. The Buffalo team won three games in Syracuse, N.Y.

Only one team has a home-court edge now: the Red Scare. The crowd numbered 2,619 on Wednesday. That was far short of the crowd of 4,569 that watched the Aftershocks play in Wichita on Friday, but the Dayton fans have willed their team to victory by raising the decibels.

“It looks great on TV,” Mugar said. “The fans who are out here are so animated and loud. There’s definitely a sixth man in the stands, and it’s played a huge role in the team advancing. Every team that plays them, we talk to them after, and they love it. They say it’s hard to play here, but they love the energy and the atmosphere. So it’s definitely an advantage.”

On the court, the Red Scare continue to make the most of their full roster. All 10 players have seen double-digit minutes in all three games. Every player scored Wednesday. Nine players had at least one rebound.

Seven years ago, three of the Red Scare players didn’t have that luxury. Jordan Sibert, Scoochie Smith and Darrell Davis all played for the seven-man team that finished 27-9 and won two NCAA tournament games. They faced constant questions that season about their fatigue, and they faced another Wednesday after their third game in four days.

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“How are feeling?” they were asked in the postgame press conference.

“We don’t get tired,” said Smith with a laugh, echoing his answers from 2015.

“It’s the same motto,” Davis said.

Red Scare coach Joey Gruden said the plan for the off day Thursday was to let the players rest as much as possible.

“Let them sleep in,” Gruden said. “Stretch. Rehab. All that good stuff. Take the day completely off. Focus up mentally and get ready to go again. We’ve got six games in 10 days. It’s a good thing we’ve got 10 guys. We’re good. We’re ready to go. They don’t get tired, like Scooch said.”

FRIDAY’S GAMES

UD Arena

Blue Collar vs. Heartfire, 7 p.m., ESPN

Red Scare vs. Best Virginia, 9 p.m., ESPN

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