Diarra dazzles in Battle of the Boulevard win for Cross

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It was an impressive night for the youngest Knight.

The pressure of the second meeting of the Battle of the Boulevard between St. Francis Prep and Holy Cross didn’t rattle freshman wing Hassan Diarra. He finished the game with 16 points, including a seven-point first quarter that helped kick start the Knights’ offense in a comfortable 58-45 win over host St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens boys’ basketball last Friday.

“All I have to do is work hard,” said Diarra, in regard to handling the pressure of playing on the varsity level.

The Battle of the Boulevard hasn’t been much of a battle this year, as Holy Cross (10-11, 5-8) swept the regular season series with the Terriers (6-15, 2-12). The Knights’ performance in game two was just another chapter in a stellar first season for Diarra.

“He’s got such a high motor and such a high basketball IQ,” said Holy Cross coach Terry Tarpey. “This was one of his better games. He’s shooting the ball so much better than we would have thought.”

Senior guard Chaz Platt added 16 points, carrying the offensive load with Diarra and helping bail out the Knights when their plays broke down.

“We just tell Hassan to be himself,” Platt said. “We give him a lot of confidence and just let him play basketball.”

In the second quarter, Holy Cross was held scoreless until there were just under three minutes left, when Tarpey went to his 2-2-1 press and helped kick start things.

“They were scoring a little bit and we weren’t really shooting too well,” he said. “We had to get points off our defense.”

Holy Cross would take a 24-15 lead into the half. The third quarter was more of the same, as their press disrupted St. Francis Prep’s ability to bring the ball up. When the Terriers were capable of running their sets in the half court, the Knights’ two bigs, seniors Yannic Williams and Kenneth Nunez, stood guard at the rim.

“Our big guys played smart,” said Tarpey. “They didn’t commit any stupid fouls. They showed better discipline on defense.”

Holy Cross closed out the game with Diarra and Platt leading the way, as they scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, matching their output in the entire first half to secure their first two-game league winning streak all season. Kyle Beeson led St. Francis with 16 points.

“This was very important,” said Diarra. “Our season has been up and down a little bit. To get these two in a row is very big. We just have to stay focused, work hard and keep playing.”

Posted 12:00 am, February 12, 2016
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