New Year's Jump-off hosts four thrillers
No. 14 HACKENSACK 59, ENGLEWOOD 55
Hackensack coach Aaron Taylor said his team's 16-point halftime deficit Sunday afternoon against Englewood indicates that his team is still very much a work in progress.
The stirring second-half rally maufactured by the Comets, though, let's Taylor know that the "work" end of that phrase is not something Hackensack is likely to shy away from.
Chris Myers netted 14 of his 17 points and Rashard Figures scored 13 of his 15 in the second half as they rallied Hackensack (6-2), No. 14 in The MSG Varsity Top 20, from a 33-17 deficit at the New Year's Jump-Off at Hackensack.
"We shouldn't have been in the hole, but they were able to get themselves out of it," Tylor said. "We want to figure out why we were in the hole and correct that, but it was nice to see them be able to battle back and figure it out."
Hackensack chipped away in the third quarter behind Myers' floor leadership and the rebouning of Gene Marshall and Mershan Monroe, though still, trailed, 51-40, entering the fourth period.
The Comets put together an 11-2 run in the first 4:14 of the period (Figures led with five points) to pull to within 53-49. Austin Mofunanya scored on a putback for Englewood with 3:05 to play, but Hackensack reeled off the final eight points, , including four by Figures.
Marshall scored 13 points and also had two steals for Hackensack. Omar Sotolongo scored 12 points and Mofunanya had 11 for Englewood (2-5).
No. 5 TEANECK 65, No. 11 ST. PATRICK 63 (OT)
Joel Hernandez made a heady decision to shoot a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and probably an even better one when he purposely drew contact on another long attempt as the first overtime period came to a close.
Good choices, without doubt, but perhaps not the best decisions of the weekend in matters relating to the talented junior guard.
Those were made by his doctor on Saturday morning and head coach Jerome Smart early Sunday afternoon when Hernandez was given clearance to play with his stitched-up right hand, bandaged and padded from a cut suffered last week in the locker room following a game.
Hernandez forced OT with his long trey from the right wing and ended it by hitting 2 of 3 from the foul line with one second remaining, carrying undefeated Teaneck to a thrilling 65-63 victory over St. Patrick in an MSG Varsity Top 15 matchup at the New Year's Jump-Off at Hackensack High.
"I knew I was gonna shoot it because by the time I got to where the rim was, I knew there wouldn't be enough time to pass it," Hernandez said of the 3-pointer that knotted the game at 53-53 for No. 5 Teaneck (7-0). "I just wanted to elevate and shoot it."
He rose high above his defender and drained the shot that answered a pair of free throws by Johnathan Williams of No. 11 St. Patrick (2-2) with five seconds to go and thwarted a bold rally effort by the Celtics.
St. Patrick gave itself another chance to win with the scrappy play of junior guard Darrian Collins in the final seconds of overtime. He tied the game at 60-60 on two free throws with 21 seconds to go, pulled the Celtics to within 62-61 on a free throw with 15 ticks remaining and tied it again at 63-63 with a coast-to-coast layup with six seconds to play.
Seconds later, Hernandez dribbled across the time line toward the left wing, spotted an aggressive defender and instantly utilized both brain and body.
That stirring result for Teaneck gave the Highwaymen their fourth victory this season over a solid non-public school, and a signature win against a household name like St. Patrick--even with Teaneck ranked higher at the time.
St. Patrick has a proud history of finding ways to win, even in unlikely situations, and the Celtics appeared to be riding the outstanding play of DeAndre Bembry toward yet another exciting upset.
The 6-6 junior emerged as a defensive force in the fourth quarter, blocking three of his four shots and also scoring four points and collecting a steal to help turn a 44-36 disadvantage into a 50-47 lead on his transition dunk off a steal with 2:54 left in the game.
No. 4 PLAINFIELD 59, No. 10 HUDSON CATHOLIC 57
Ahmid Williams converted a pair of clutch free throws with 25 seconds remaining to snap a tie and defense took care of the rest as Plainfield edged Hudson Catholic in the third of four games at the New Year's Jump-off Classic at Hackensack on Sunday.
Diijon Allen-Jordan paced the Cardinals, ranked fourth in the MSG Varsity poll, with 14 points, while Sekou Harris and Jahmal Lane each chipped in 11 to help their team improve to 5-1.
Hudson Catholic trailed by 11 entering the fourth quarter of this showdown between two top 15 teams, but suffered its second loss of the year. The Hawks had also lost to Rutgers Prep.
Reggie Cameron paced Hudson Catholic with 23 points and six rebounds.
No. 1 ST. ANTHONY 51, No. 2 ST. BENEDICT'S PREP 50
Bob Hurley realizes a championship run and rise in the national rankings consists of improving every day and finding ways to develop an identity throughout the long journey. He noted early last season his team wasn’t ready to contend for a title, but was developing the sterling habits of a true contender. This season is no different.
In the most anticipated regular-season showdown of the season, though, St. Anthony may have figured out the precious formula that could carry the Friars to another trip to the Tournament of Champions final game.
Hurley watched his Friars tap into a trusted philosophy of relying on every single member of the floor, rather than riding the talents of one individual superstar. On Sunday evening at the New Year’s Jump-off Classic at Hackensack High School, a team effort was needed.
Kyle Anderson recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Jimmy Hall chipped in 12 points and Josh Brown, who finished with 10 points, made a big defensive play in the last second by tipping Tyler Ennis’ last-ditch 3-point attempt to help No. 1 St. Anthony escape No. 2 St. Benedict’s Prep, 51-50, in thrilling fashion.
The Friars (7-0) trailed marginally throughout, but outscored the more athletic Gray Bees, 17-10, in the fourth quarter to extend its current winning streak to 40 games dating to the 2009-10 campaign.
“We came back, and you’re not going to overwhelm a team like that,” Hurley said. “They have great players. In the second half we started to play together, and defensively, this is one of the best teams I’ve had.”
Melvin Johnson poured in a game-high 25 points and point guard Tyler Ennis contributed 14 for St. Benedict’s (9-1), which took a slim 25-23 lead into the half.
The Gray Bees held a 40-32 advantage after the third, but wilted late in the final stanza. Hallice Cooke drained a 3-pointer to pull St. Anthony even at 48-48 with 2:48 remaining and Brown’s put-back off a missed attempt handed his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish 41 seconds later.
Ennis converted two free throws to cut the St. Benedict’s deficit to one point with 19 seconds on the clock, but on the ensuing possession, failed to get his potential game-winning shot over the extended fingertips of Brown.