Final Verdict: Judges’ season ends in loss to Westinghouse

By Troy Mauriello

Aaron Walker has been here before.

He hit a game-winner to send Benjamin Cardozo past Christ the King at home and landed a 3-pointer to send the Judges over Boys & Girls and into the PSAL boys’ basketball quarterfinals. But Walker couldn’t bail his team out a third time.

He had the ball in his hands during the closing seconds, with Cardozo down by two. Walker let go of a 3-pointer. The buzzer sounded, the shot sailed toward the basket, and everyone in a packed gymnasium at Baruch College held their breath.

But this time Walker knew when the shot left his hand it wouldn’t end up like the rest. The shot clanged off the right rim and the top-seeded Judges were knocked off 58-56 by No. 8 George Westinghouse, ending their dream of a second city title in the last three years.

“It didn’t look good,” Walker said. “It looked like it was going more to the right instead of going straight towards the basket.” He and fellow senior Rashond Salnave were held without a field goal through the game’s first three quarters as they struggled against a tough Westinghouse defense.

Despite their struggles on the offensive end, Cardozo held a seven-point lead at halftime. Tareq Coburn carried the Judges in the first half, with 10 of his team-high 15 points. But as the Judges’ struggles continued, Westinghouse clawed its way back into the game. The two teams were deadlocked at 43-43 with 1:54 remaining in regulation.

After a Westinghouse basket put the Warriors up 45-43 and Walker air-balled a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, the game looked lost for Cardozo. However, when Westinghouse missed the front end of a one-and-one, Coburn attacked the basket and was fouled with 2.8 seconds left. He drained two free throws to send the game into overtime.

“I thought that was like a second chance for us… to get a great start,” Coburn said.

He and the Judges would do just that in overtime. Behind nine combined points from Salnave and Walker, they held a 54-47 lead with just 1:53 remaining. However some questionable clock management and some timely shooting from Westinghouse pulled the Warriors to within two with less than one minute left.

Dammari Moore hit a basket and was fouled with 17.6 seconds remaining, and his ensuing free throw gave the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish. Cardozo, down by two, had one final shot. However, that possession would result in Salnave dishing the ball off to Walker, who could not recreate his buzzer-beating heroics.

“Thinking back… maybe I should’ve shot the last shot, even though there were three Westinghouse guys on me,” Salnave said.”

Wings 62, Construction 48: Micaiah Goosby scored 22 points and Wesley Nelson chipped in 16 points for the Red Hawks in the quarterfinal. Construction and Wings were tied at 13-13 after one quarter, before offensive woes kicked in.

The Red Hawks managed just 16 points over the second and third quarters, and trailed 42-29 heading into the fourth quarter. Coach Corey Semper was disappointed with his team’s effort and ball movement. Construction got as close as 10 with 4:57 remaining, but Wings, behind 20 points from Jose Perez, held on.

Lincoln 86, Queens HS of Teaching 52: The fifth-seeded Tigers struggled mightily in their first Class AA quarterfinal appearance. They went over four minutes without a field goal and scored just six points in the second quarter as they found themselves down 48-19 at the half to No. 4 Lincoln. Chris Kelley paced the Tigers with 15 points, all in the second half. Rahmel Thompson and Justin Steed each added 10 as well.

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