By Anthony Bosco
The finality of the moment seemed to hit Paul Gilvary as he emerged from classroom 205 at Archbishop Molloy Sunday evening, just a few minutes after the Holy Cross basketball team he coaches fell to All Hallows, 81-80, in a double overtime classic in the first round of the CHSAA playoffs.
The Knights, who had led most of the game, began to wilt in the fourth quarter but fought back time and again, forcing two extra sessions. The team missed a chance to win it on the game’s final possession when Shaun Terry’s short jumper bounced harmlessly off the rim and into the arms of the Gaels’ Mike Davis.
“What we wanted to try and do was have Mike (Johnson) penetrate and kind of see what developed,” Gilvary said of the Knights’ last possession. “Mike had to read the play and if he had a chance to get to the rim and take a layup, obviously that would have been choice No. 1. He dropped it back to Shaun and he had a good look. If it goes in we’re playing on Friday. He missed, so we’re done.”
The loss ended the Knights’ season with a 13-13 record and brought a premature end to the high school hoop careers of the seniors on the team. Gilvary, clearly upset with the defeat, chose not to comment about the wide disparity of fouls called in the second half and overtime periods, which sent the Gaels to the line 32 times compared with only eight for Cross.
But for most of the game it was the Knights, using superior team speed and an opportunistic defense, who seemed completely in control — until the Pittsburgh-bound Ronald Ramon and Co. finally awoke in the second half.
“That was a hard game,” said a smiling Ramon, who sported a noticeable nick on his forehead, evidence of the game’s physical play. “You should never give up on a game. We just wanted to stay together and keep playing hard.”
The two evenly matched teams were locked in a 9-9 tie midway through the first quarter before Cross went on an 8-0 run, forcing Gaels’ head coach Ed Gonzalez to call a timeout after Lawrence Jolicouer scored at the 2:52 mark.
Kevin Ogeltree, who scored a game-high 30 points, and Anthony Clarke, who finished with 15, helped the Knights take a 20-11 lead into the second quarter.
All Hallows (17-9) quickly established that Cross would not be running away with the game in the second stanza, as Ramon and teammate Terrell Elliston scored 26 points apiece and pulled the Gaels within three late in the half. But a three-pointer by Joseph Connor and a free throw by Ogeltree gave the Knights a 33-26 advantage at the break.
“I thought we did a very good job on Ronald Ramon, considering what a great player he is,” Gilvary said. “We made him work for everyone. He didn’t have any gimmes today.”
As hot as they were early, the Knights opened the third positively scorching, scoring the first nine points of the second half to go up 42-26 with 6:24 remaining in the quarter. Slowly but steadily, however, All Hallows began chipping away at the lead.
Ramon, a first-team All-CHSAA selection, connected on three three-point bombs in the third quarter, cutting the 16-point deficit to just four with his long-range buzzer beater to end the period, making the score 53-49 heading into the fourth.
“There’s no quit in this team,” Gonzalez said. “If we were going to lose, we were going to go down fighting.”
Elliston scored the first four points of the fourth to tie the game, but a quick 7-2 spurt gave a five-point cushion back to Cross with 3:45 remaining. All Hallows eventually took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes when Davis connected on 1-of-2 from the charity stripe. Another free throw by Cody Oliver made it 64-62 All Hallows with under a minute to play, but Ogeltree’s basket with 18.4 left on the clock tied the game and forced the first extra session.
The Gaels seemed ready to put the Knights to bed when they went up 71-66 with only 1:11 left, but a three by Ogeltree and two buckets by Michael Johnson tied the game with just 4.6 left, forcing another four-minute overtime period.
Neither team could pull away late in the game and with the game tied at 76, the Knights held the ball for close to a full minute before Johnson scored to put Cross back in front with 2:02 on the clock.
It was Davis who scored the eventual game-winning points, hitting two free throws with 38 seconds remaining. The Knights had two chances to win the game late, but Davis came up big defensively as well, blocking two shots on one possession and grabbing the key rebound after Terry’s game-winning attempt missed its mark.
Gordon McKenzie added 11, while Johnson and Jolicouer each chipped in 10 for the Knights.
“I thought we played very well. I thought we competed,” Gilvary said. “It was a battle. They got the last point. That’s what it comes down to. It was what we expected.”
Christ the King 70, Monsignor McClancy 61. The Royals held off a game Crusaders team, which had cut a 16-point halftime lead to five in the second half. The Royals got 14 points apiece from Larry Davis and Chris Martin and advance to the CHSAA quarterfinals, where they will face No. 1-seeded St. Raymond’s Friday at St. Francis Prep. McClancy was led by Stephen Wood’s 20 points and Nick Hamilton-Lopez’s 17 points.
St. Francis Prep 74, Monsignor Farrell 62. The Terriers edged a surprisingly tough Lions club in the playoff opener, thanks to a game-high 30 points from senior guard Bryan Geffen. St. Francis will take on the Xaverian Clippers Thursday at Christ the King in the quarterfinals. Farrell was led by Douglas Elwell’s 25 points.
Cathedral Prep 69, St. Agnes 60. Michael Liander scored 22 points of the bench to lead the Crusaders past St. Agnes. Cathedral Prep advances to the CHSAA varsity ‘B’ semifinals, where the team will take on Monsignor Scanlan Sunday at Iona Prep at 2:30 p.m. Scanlan defeated Blessed Sacrament, 71-52, to advance.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.