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Lopez’s clutch free throws lift Flushing

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At the end of every Flushing boys’ basketball practice, head coach Charles Richardson runs a drill called “win the game,” which involves sinking enough free throws to avoid running laps.

Against league rival Bryant Monday at home, senior point guard Roberto Lopez executed the drill to perfection. After getting fouled while attempting a desperation three-pointer, Lopez stepped to the foul line with the Red Devils trailing 63-62 with 0.7 seconds left.

Lopez buried the first two free throws and alertly missed the third on purpose as Flushing rallied to win, 64-63.

“They were just regular free throws,” said Lopez, who scored 7 points. “If I put any pressure on myself, I would miss. It’s what I practice for.”

While Lopez was calm amidst all the craziness around him, Richardson admittedly didn’t share Lopez’s demeanor.

“Practice is one thing, but it’s the first time he'd be doing it with the game on the line,” he said. “I just said let’s see what happens and see if he can do it.”

And he did, as for the second time this season Flushing (8-8, 4-5 Queens I-A) rallied from a double-digit deficit to defeat Bryant.

On Nov. 26, the Red Devils trailed by 19 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring the Owls 32-8 for a 60-55 road win. So Lopez and co. weren’t all that worried when they were down 46-35 at the half.

Richardson called off the press, which was ineffective against run-and-gun Bryant (5-10, 4-5 Queens I-A), and Flushing slowed the game down and got within five in the third quarter.

But the Red Devils squandered several chances to get any closer in the third and trailed by 10 before freshman Travis Colburn buried an NBA three at the buzzer.

“I told them we’ve been here before, so don’t worry,” Richardson said.

Along with senior Mario Nunez (14 points, 14 rebounds), Colburn continued with his hot shooting, nailing a 14-footer to open the fourth quarter and another trifecta to get Flushing within four, 59-55 with 5:41 left. He scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

“I got my stroke going,” Colburn said. “I felt if I got the ball I was confident to shoot it.”

Bryant looked lost in its halfcourt offense, missed all six of its free throws in the second half and turned the ball over twice in the final 1:06.

“In the first half we played our game, but when they slowed the game down we made mistakes,” Bryant coach John Demas said. “When they pressed we ran what we wanted but when they didn’t, we struggled to run our offense and didn’t get out on their shooters.”

Even though Bryant had a multitude of problems in the second half, the players seemed ready to steal the win when Dimitri Sotiriou’s putback gave the Owls a one-point lead with 5.8 seconds left.

The Red Devils quickly worked the ball over to Lopez on the left wing, and he was hit by Salvadore Patricio (game-high 20 points) on the right wrist after getting a piece of the ball with less than a second remaining.

“We shouldn’t have lost, it should’ve been a no-call,” Demas said. “It was an awful call. [Patricio] hit the ball. The referee should have swallowed his whistle.”

Munir Noureddine had 16 points for Bryant, but only two in the second half, and Juan Gonzalez added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Newtown 58, Aviation 51. Layapole Davis had 11 points and eight rebounds and Alberto Ortiz added five points and nine assists for Newtown (8-8, 5-4 Queens I-A). Nelson Cueto netted a game-high 20 points for Aviation (5-3 Queens I-A).

Forest Hills 81, Grover Cleveland 72. Dennis Matute had 21 points and 18 rebounds, Chris Chin had 10 points and 10 assists, and Will Reams and Nat Kirschbaum added 13 points apiece for Forest Hills (13-3, 7-1 Queens I-A).

Long Island City 70, Franklin K. Lane 47. Preston Bell had 26 points and 18 rebounds, Cedric Battle chipped in 16 points, and Michael Laboy added 10 points and eight assists for LIC (10-7, 5-4 Queens I-A).

Cardozo 101, Park West 71. Cameron Tyler scored 30 points and Vic Morris added 23 points for Cardozo (11-2) in a non-league win.

Francis Lewis 67, Van Buren 51. Paco Alvarez scored 14 points and Chris Lemieszewski grabbed 11 rebounds for Francis Lewis (9-6) in a non-league win.

Bayside 75, Truman 42. In his first start, Martin Luther transfer Tyrone Dulin scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as Bayside (10-5) went on a 25-0 run to end the first half in the Queens Winter Classic at Elmcor Saturday. Truman (12-5) went without a field goal for 17 minutes.

Cardozo 80, Tilden 77. Cameron Tyler scored 33 points, including a pair of free throws with nine seconds left, Skyler Khaleel added 15 points and 16 boards and Vic Morris added 14 points for Cardozo (10-2). Nate Sudlow netted a game-high 37 points for Cardozo but missed a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.

Forest Hills 62, John Bowne 49. Chin reached the 1,000 point plateau, netting 28 points, and Lawrence Young added 19 points for the Rangers.

Robert F. Wagner 85, Renaissance 49. Jaysen Murphy recorded a triple-double (16 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists) and Kenneth Chapman added 17 points for Wagner (11-5, 8-2 Queens B).

Beach Channel 69, John Adams 58. Rahshon Clark had 27 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, and John Thomas added 16 points, including five three-pointers for Beach Channel (10-1, 10-0 Queens III-A).

Bryant 67, American Studies 65. Robert Morban’s layup with two seconds left clinched the non-league win for Bryant, which received 19 points from Nelson Cueto.

Springfield Gardens 58, Van Buren 57. Kurt Stewart’s bucket with six seconds left clinched Springfield’s first league win. The Golden Eagles improve to 1-10 in Queens III-A.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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