set up an inbounds play with 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
The Bulldogs, who had been seemingly left for dead just three minutes earlier, needed a basket to tie and a 3-pointer to defeat their crosstown rival Holy Cross (Waterbury)
in what was shaping up as another in a long line of memorable finishes in this Naugatuck Valley League boys basketball rivalry.
Crosby's Todd Smith
took the inbounds at the free-throw line, drove to the short left corner and lifted a floater at the buzzer but it missed its mark. Holy Cross, ranked fifth in the state writers poll, had survived No. 6 Crosby 67-65 in a game in which each team entered undefeated at Crosby Palace.
"We were 9-0 at this point because of hard play and defense," Crosby coach Nick Augelli said. "And that got us back into the game. We didn't shoot well (9-for-29 in the first half) and that's been our Achilles heel. Until we start shooting well, we're not going to be a good team.
"Went an 8-minute stretch from the end of the second period and the beginning of the third period where we didn't score. We'll get better, we're young, we'll get better."
After Crosby (9-1) took an 8-3 lead early, Holy Cross took control of the game with good half-court defense and accurate passing opening up easy baskets. The Crusaders (10-0) went up 31-24 at the half and maintained a 10-12 point lead for much of the second half behind 6-foot-1 Michael Mallory's
acrobatic scoring (game-high 30 points) and Tre'von Perry's
rebounding (14 rebounds).
"We had spurts where we looked really good offensively. Those spurts were enough to hold off Crosby at the end," Holy Cross coach Ed Generali said. "Mike's a great player. I think he has a future to play college basketball. We look to him to make the big shots and he certainly came up with some tremendous plays for us tonight."
With 3:35 left, Crosby trailed 56-44. That's when the Bulldogs finally started to put it together with their full-court press turning the ball over and with their shots starting to fall.
Crosby (11-for-16 fourth quarter) outscored Holy Cross 19-8 in the next three minutes to cut it to 64-63 with 43.1 seconds left, powered by Marvin Hampton's
two put-backs, and three consecutive 3-pointers, two from Anthony King
(12 points) and one from point guard Gabriel Pulliam
Hampton (17 points, 12 rebounds) had fouled out at the 1:17 mark, but Crosby wasn't done, even after Cross' Kairyn Boxton
hit two free throws with 24.8 seconds left for a 66-63 lead. Crosby came down the court and Smith promptly hit a basket to cut it to one. Clifton Aquino
(12 points) secured Cross' final margin with the front end of a two-shot foul but missed the second to open the door, but it wasn't to be for the Bulldogs.
"Crosby plays tough, just the grit they had to come back on us," Generali said. "I'm very happy with my kids, we made the plays at the end, we showed some composure. The roof was caving in basically, so I'm very pleased with this win."Continue reading