GRAND RAPIDS — Grace Bible College’s Ryan Krombeen described himself as a passer first, then a shooter, but the junior forward did a complete role reversal Friday night.
Krombeen’s turnaround jumper about 5 feet from the basket with 4 seconds remaining lifted the Tigers to a 64-63 victory against host Calvin College in opening-round action of the Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Tournament.
The Knights had taken a 63-62 lead after senior center Brent Schuster sank a free throw with 16 seconds left. Grace Bible coach Gary Bailey then called a timeout.
The 2,023 fans in attendance likely guessed that the Tigers were busy setting up a play for senior forward Allen Durham, who scored a game-high 19 points. But Bailey instead drew up a play for Krombeen in the huddle.
“I think everyone was expecting (Durham) to shoot. That’s why we wanted to do something different,” Bailey said, whose team improved to 6-2. “What we did was bring him from the corner to the high post off a screen. We wanted to get the ball to Krombeen. He is left-handed, and that throws some people off. He is a little deceiving, and we wanted the shot to be close to the basket because no one wants to foul in that situation.
“(Krombeen) doesn’t jump extremely well, but he is just crafty. He is a good free throw shooter, too.”
Krombeen, who finished with four points, called it the biggest shot of his career.
“In the last four minutes or so, when we started making our comeback, we put Allen on the other side because they were doubling either post,” said Krombeen (Calvin Christian). “I would get it and they would double me. I guess I’m known more as a passer than a shooter, so I kept kicking it out.
“The last time, since I kicked it out every time, they had (Durham) doubled, so I knew I had a chance of making my move. I got hit a little bit on the elbow, but I controlled it enough to get it up.”
Action will continue with Saturday’s 1 p.m. consolation game between Ohio Wesleyan and Calvin, followed by the 3 p.m. championship between Grace Bible and Heidelberg College. Heidelberg defeated Wesleyan, 58-57, in Friday’s opening game.
Calvin (0-2) led 23-13 with 8:20 left in the first half when the Tigers went on a 15-0 run and eventually took a 34-28 halftime lead.
The Knights bounced back in the second half and led 60-52 with 4:13 left in regulation when Grace Bible again made a move.
“The second 10 minutes of the first half, we got very careless,” Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek said. “We fell back into some questionable shot selection and some selfish defense where we made some errors.
“In the second half, we got the lead. But then, I thought we played it safe. We were very passive and we started walking the ball up the court. That’s something we don’t want to do.
“Overall, other than losing, which is heartbreaking in a close game like that, I’m pleased with the progress we made from Tuesday to today. That’s a good thing, and we will have to try to regroup.”
Danny Rodts led the Knights with 14 points, Tom Snikkers and Schuster each had 13 points and Bryan Powell 10.