LEWISTON -- Ian Walton was hoping his career at Nichols would end like his favorite basketball movie, but it didn't.
"I went out there thinking it was going to be like Hoosiers and I was going to be like Jimmy [Chitwood]," Walton said, in reference to the shooting star of the 1986 film.
Instead, Walton and his Nichols teammates fell to Blessed Sacrament of New Rochelle, 76-67, in the Class B Catholic state championship. Saturday's game was played before an estimated 150 at Niagara University.
It wasn't the script it had written, but Nichols still hung with the Cardinals, winners of their last three games by an average of 19 points, throughout. Just when it looked like Blessed Sacrament was on its way to another double-digit victory, the Vikings would make a run.
"They did a very good job of putting pressure on Ian and Javon (Slaughter)," said Nichols coach Greg Plumb. "They didn't do anything fancy. They just made us put the ball in the hands of the guys we weren't as comfortable with as Ian and Javon. They made us do things we didn't want to."
Walton finished with 25 points, giving him 571 for the season and 1,122 for his career. Slaughter added 19, mostly on hard drives to the basket. Junior Brett Hansen added 10 points, but his biggest contribution came on defense where he drew the assignment of guarding the Cardinals' 6-foot-8 Jared Famouse, who has signed with Hartford.
Plumb said the 6-3 Hansen played his best game of the season and he welcomed the challenge to guard a future NCAA Division I player. Famouse, who was born in Africa, finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds and forced every Nichols player to alter shots in the paint.
"He was bigger and stronger so I tried to use my athleticism to get around him," said Hansen, who blocked two of Famouse's shots. "I was ready. I was excited to play against him and show what I could do."
Nichols played an impressive first quarter as it patiently worked the ball around until someone got a good look. Timothy Olsen had a tip-in just before the buzzer to give Nichols a 20-19 lead after one.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals took the lead for good, 25-23, on a shot by Famouse with 5:26 left. They outscored Nichols, 23-12, in that quarter and looked like they were on their way to another lopsided win.
Instead, Nichols rallied to within 44-42 with 5:08 left the third quarter and 60-59 with 6:57 left in the fourth. But the Cardinals answered each time with putback baskets.
Famouse presented plenty of challenges defensively, but he wasn't the only weapon as Dennis Curtis finished with 22 points and Terrel Marcus added 18.
Nichols ended 15-12 while the Cardinals advance to the Federation Tournament.