With 4.9 seconds left in the game, Ozzie Oyagha propelled himself through the air, twisting his body awkwardly as he did, and snatched a loose ball, launching it at an opposing player. The ball found its mark and ricocheted out of bounds, last touching a Christ the King player and giving possession back to Holy Cross.
Oyagha then missed a layup under the basket off the inbound pass, but was fouled on the play. He then hit both free throws and gave the Knights an incredible 47-46 lead against the Royals.
"Ozzie made an absolutely great play," said Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary, ecstatic after the No. 7-seeded Knights shocked the No. 2-seeded Royals in the first round of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Tournament Sunday afternoon at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. "I thought Ozzie could have made the layup, but he made the foul shots and that was good enough."
With time about to expire, Christ the King's Robert Barrett inbounded the ball from underneath his own basket, but the ball was deflected away from its intended target. Cross's Chris Fileti came away with the ball and launched it skyward as the buzzer sounded.
The victory was without a doubt the biggest win of the season for the Knights, who struggled through a dismal 2-10 regular season. Cross had the chance to move up to the No. 5 seed had it won its last two games of the year, but had to settle for seventh following a tough loss to Xaverian and a coin flip loss to McClancy, which also finished 2-10.
In retrospect, however, Gilvary did not seem to mind.
"That was the best coin flip since ... I don't know," the coach said. "The first step to winning today was believing in ourselves. It's easy to stop believing and get down on ourselves. We had a new opportunity here and we had to take advantage of it. It feels pretty good."
What Holy Cross did was erase two earlier defeats to the Royals from their memories and attack their opponents with a sound strategy that was executed to perfection.
The Knights held CK point guard Omar Cook scoreless through the first three periods while holding the ball for the right shot. While technically not a "slow-down" strategy, Cross held on to the ball just long enough to throw Christ the King's potent offensive play out of sync.
"We just tried to contain Omar," Gilvary said. "You can't stop a player like that. Today it worked."
Cook, who ended the game with 1,001 points for his career, came alive in the fourth quarter. With the Royals trailing 38-31, Cook scored 10 in the final period, helping Christ the King take a four-point lead in the final minute, 46-41, but the Knights would not fold.
CK's Juma Allen fouled Fileti on a three-point attempt and Cross pulled to within one. On the next possession, Cook tried to drive the lane, but was met by Cross' Pierre Ward, who rejected the shot cleanly.
Fileti attempted the next shot, but missed the mark, setting up Oyagha's sensational athletic play that helped Cross keep possession in the final seconds.
"That gave us life," Gilvary said. "At least the game was in our hands."
Oyagha led all scorers with 14 points, while Fileti added 13 and Joe Marino 12. Cook led CK with 10, followed by Barrett with nine and Zack Williams with seven.
At the conclusion of the game, Cook, a St. John's signee, was hit with a flagrant technical foul for bumping an official. The call will force the point guard to miss Christ the King's first two intersectional games, making him ineligible until the city semifinals.
Cross improved to 12-13 on the season with the win, while Christ the King fell to 18-7.
Archbishop Molloy 55, Xaverian 51. Molloy trailed for most of its game against Xaverian, as the Clipped opened the game hitting six straight three-pointers to take a 22-8 lead at the end of the first period.
The Stanners battled back, however, and outscored their Brooklyn opponents 13-5 in the second quarter to pull within five, 26-21 at the half.
Molloy got its first lead with 3:40 left in the fourth when Ed O'Neil converted a three-point play. Shaheem McNair gave the lead back to Xaverian with 38 seconds left with a short jumper, but a penetrating drive and dish from O'Neil to Din Tolbert put Molloy back-up by one, 52-51.
A bad pass by Xaverian and three subsequent free throws by Tolbert and O'Neal sealed the win for Molloy, now 17-8 on the year. The victory was the 1,500th for the school's storied basketball program.
O'Neal led the way with 16, followed by John Sikiric with 14 and 12 from Tolbert, who also pulled down 14 rebounds. Mike Klingele and Brian Hudec each had 16 for Xaverian.
Cathedral Prep 47, St. Agnes 44. Guy Lombardo scored 16 points for Cathedral Prep, including two clutch free throws down the stretch as the Crusaders held off St. Agnes Sunday at Sacred Heart.
Pat Donlin added 12 points and eight rebounds for Cathedral, now 18-5 overall. Cathedral will face Salesian Saturday at Mount St. Michael in the next round. Salesian holds two close wins over Cathedral this season.
Notes: In the CHSAA Class B playoffs, St. John's Prep will play St. Joseph's by the Sea Saturday at Bishop Ford at 12:45 p.m. St. Joe's beat Stepinac, 72-62, to earn the right to play the top-seeded Red Storm, which had a bye in the first round.
The CHSAA announced this year's all-Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan teams. Cook was named the league MVP, while Bishop Loughlin coach Bob Leckie was named coach of the year.
First Team: Terrence Watkins (Loughlin), Darryl Boykins (McClancy), Mike Boynton (Loughlin), Kevin Fitzgerald (St. Francis Prep) and Wendell Gibson (Molloy).
Second Team: Zack Williams (Christ the King), Curtis Sumpter (Loughlin), James Hauser (Molloy), Chris Fileti (Holy Cross) and Steve Hartwig (St. Francis Prep).
©2000 Community News Group
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