Memorable Mondays: Top 5 Exciting Endings
Welcome to MSGVarsity.com's Memorable Mondays, a summer-long series that looks back on the top players, games and moments from the past season and gazes ahead to 2012-13. As the summer goes on, we'll compile all the lists and post them here: www.msgvarsity.com/mondays. New lists will be posted every Monday.
In Week 4 of Memorable Mondays, we look at five of the best exciting endings from New Jersey high schools:
Ramsey girls soccer: The deft finishing touch of Lexi Knief certainly grabbed headlines throughout the girls soccer season, but it was her perseverance that helped Ramsey seize a state championship.
Marked tightly by Robbinsville’s Lauren Budzinski throughout the course of regulation, Knief was effectively limited in terms of quality looks on the frame over the course of 80 minutes in the NJSIAA Group 2 state final. Yet, the senior striker never stopped searching for the space she needed to make a finishing impact and, once she found it, Knief cashed in on a golden opportunity.
The senior striker slipped into a seam just in front of the net and put away a cross from Gabrielle Martone for a golden goal that delivered Ramsey a 2-1 overtime triumph against Robbinsville and the program’s first NJSIAA Group 2 state championship since 2001.
Knief, a superb athlete who is on her way to Penn State for softball, ended the campaign with 43 goals.
Don Bosco Prep baseball: The hype of a marquee regular-season matchup like the one that unfolded between Don Bosco and Gloucester Catholic on May 6 seemed to demand a dramatic conclusion and Joe Purritano was happy to oblige.
The senior designated hitter, who was a consistent force in the heart of Don Bosco’s meaty lineup, stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th with two runners aboard and the Ironmen trailing, 3-2. He refused to bite on the tantalizing curveballs of Gloucester Catholic’s Danny Higgins, patiently baiting the left-hander into testing his luck with a fastball.
When Higgins dealt a heater on the inner half, Purritano, who displayed his true power all season by driving shots to the opposite field, made it a point to prove he had equal strength when given the chance to turn on an offering.
Purritano launched a towering three-run, walkoff homer to right that lifted Don Bosco to a memorable 5-3 victory and capped a 3-for-4 afternoon that included a double, triple and four RBI.
That contest served as a preview for the NJSIAA Non-Public A state final one month later, where Gloucester Catholic returned the favor with a 4-1 triumph over Don Bosco.
Jackson Memorial girls basketball: Considering the unconscious rate in which Hannah Missry was connecting from long range, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when the Jackson junior delivered arguably the biggest shot of her career.
But, it was the degree or difficulty, tight quarters and magnitude of the moment that made her final 3-pointer of the NJSIAA Group 4 state final against North Hunterdon so distinctly memorable.
Missry accepted a dish from Tiffany Montagne deep on the left side only to be instantly confronted by flying defenders, desperate to get a hand in her face. Inevitably, they were too late. The 5-8, Fordham-bound sharpshooter, quickly released a fadeaway 22-footer with 8.8 seconds left that found nothing but net to snap a deadlock and lift Jackson to its first state championship with a 50-47 victory.
Missry, who was named the game’s MVP, stamped the occasion by going 8 of 11 from behind the arc en route to 27 points.
Delbarton boys lacrosse: With a four-goal lead and under 2:00 to play, Don Bosco Prep had great reason to believe that its first state championship was close at hand.
The Ironmen, after all, were a spotless 18-0 and had allowed at least four goals in an entire quarter only four times all season.
But with the best faceoff man in New Jersey, Austin Williams, tremendous scoring balance and an almost unparalleled winning tradition, Delbarton certainly possessed the wherewithal to crush that belief.
The Green Wave employed every bit of their arsenal--physical and psychological--to charge back from a 7-4 deficit in the final 1:48 of regulation and then stun Don Bosco in overtime, 8-7, to win their second straight Non-Public A title May 30 at Livingston. It was a record 12th championship for the Wave, and assuredly the most breathtaking of the bunch.
The comeback began with a goal from Jordan Dowiak off a Connor Bilby feed and continued when Kevin Lewis rolled from behind the cage and flipped to a cutting Sean Donnelly to make it 7-5. Williams, who'd won all but five draws all game, claimed the ensuing faceoff and Delbarton cut the deficit to 7-6 soon after on a goal by Kevin Lewis with 27 seconds left in regulation.
Connor Bilby tied the game at 7-7 with a running shot from six yards out 14 seconds later, and John Shaffer capped the head-spinning rally 1:15 into OT when he dodged from the top and ripped one high from five yards away.
Delbarton went on to beat Montclair Kimberley and Summit in the first two rounds of the Tournament of Champions, but fell to Bridgewater-Raritan, 11-5, in the final.
Plainfield boys basketball: Sekou Harris forced overtime on a layup with 10 seconds to go in regulation and had 20 points to his credit as he drove through the lane in the final ticks of overtime and with his Plainfield team trailing by one point against Gill St. Bernard's.
Who that moment in a packed Roselle Catholic gym truly imagined anyone other than a hot-handed Harris offering up that last shot?
Well, teammate Diijon Allen-Jordan, for one, as he cut from the baseline, caught Harris' pass and scored with :04 remaining for a 78-77 Plainfield win at the Prime Time Shootout.
The finish was indeed thrilling, but that really only matched the fierce intensity present throughout the entire contest. Both teams possessed their "A" games this day and seemed to recognize that in each other immediately.
Jahmal Lane (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Justin Sears (15 and 9) were inside forces for Plainfield, while Alex Mitola (eight 3-pointers, 30 points) attacked from way out and Jaren Sina (22 points, seven assists) ran the floor with supreme confidence.
Plainfield forged a 62-53 lead midway in the fourth quarter, but Gill answered with a 12-0 run sparked by a Larry Pietra 3-pointer and capped on a drive by Sina with 2:01 to go for a 65-62 lead. Gill was in front, 68-63, with 55 seconds left before Plainfield stormed back with a free throw and putback by Allen-Jordan and that Harris drive to knot the game at 68-68. Lane pulled the Cardinals to within 77-74 on a putback with 1:00 left in OT and Harris sank two free throws with :25 to go to make it a one-point game.
Join us throughout the summer as "Memorable Mondays" brings you more top 5 lists:
July 23: Top five heartwarming moments from 2011-12
July 30: Top five favorite venues from 2011-12
Aug. 6: Top five coaches from 2011-12
Aug. 13: Top five most memorable games from 2011-12
Aug. 20: Top five teams from 2011-12
Aug. 27: Top five teams to watch in 2012-13
Find them all at www.msgvarsity.com/mondays.