By Joseph Staszewski
Wesley Nelson will know better next time.
The Construction coaching staff has been trying to get its star guard to stop finger rolling and take a regular layup when driving down the middle of the lane. The senior went back to his old habit with a chance to go ahead of Paul Robeson in the closing seconds.
The ball rolled out.
“I would have just laid it up,” Nelson said if he had to do it over again. “I would never have tried to finger roll it.”
Nelson’s final half-court heave at the buzzer hit the front of the rim to finish the Red Hawks boys’ basketball team’s 62-59 loss to Robeson at the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic at Paul Robeson Sunday. Nelson, who scored a game-high 15 points, will also have another reason not to repeat the feat again.
“He owes us some suicides,” Construction coach Cory Semper said. “Every time he misses when he finger rolls, he owes us suicides. That’s something we have been trying to get him out of.”
Nelson wasn’t the main reason his team lost, however. Construction hadn’t played or practiced since Dec. 22, according to Semper. It led to a sluggish start that saw the Red Hawks (10-2) trail 18-12 after one quarter and 31-25 at the break. Construction struggled to make shots and had to adjust to attacking Robeson forwards Issac Konte and Israel Farrington.
Construction looked more like itself after halftime. Improved ball movement gained open looks for a team where all of its starters are a threat to score from the outside. But each Red Hawk run brought an answer from Robeson.
“We needed more intensity,” senior guard Marcus Saint Furcy said. “We needed more energy. We needed to start moving the ball more.”
Construction pulled within 43-41 on a put-back by Bryson Bryant with 1:46 to play in the third. The Eagles scored the next six points to take an eight-point lead into the final frame. Construction responded with its biggest push, a 10-0 run put them up 51-49 with 4:46 to play in the game. Again, seven straight points from Robeson had them back up by five with three minutes to play.
“We never really got a chance to bite down on them,” Semper said. “We had a couple of opportunities, missed layups, missed free throws.”
Saint Furcy had 13 points for Construction, Micaiah Goosby 11 and Bryant 10. Keith Swinson, Rikky Degale and Farrington each dropped in 10 points for Robeson.
A drive from Nelson cut the Robeson lead to 60-59 with 17.5 seconds left. Two missed free throws from Jonathan Murray opened the door to steal the game, but Construction saw it slam shut.
“We just have to finish our game,” Nelson said. “We are right there. We have to finish.”