O’Hara takes first state title since 1994 with come-from-be­hind ef­fort

Haynes scores 14 of his 18 in sec­ond half

The Buffalo News - - HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - By Jim Hague

NEW YORK – The Car­di­nal O’Hara boys bas­ket­ball team spent seven hours on a bus from Buf­falo to the Bronx on what se­nior Jer­maine Haynes Jr. termed “a busi­ness trip.”

“It was a busi­ness trip be­cause we had to come here and take care of busi­ness,” Haynes said.

O’Hara even­tu­ally did, win­ning the New York Catholic High School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Class B cham­pi­onship, 45-35, against Regis of New York on Saturday at Ford­ham Univer­sity for its first boys bas­ket­ball state title since 1994.

But half­way through the game, O’Hara found it­self strug­gling, trail­ing 18-13.

“For some rea­son, we’re used to start­ing off slow,” Haynes said. “We’ve faced a lot of ad­ver­sity all year. We just had to keep our heads up and not let some­one else tell us what to do.”

With the vic­tory, O’Hara (25-1) equaled the pro­gram record for wins and to­tal points (2,132) in a sea­son. Both records were held by the pre­vi­ous state cham­pi­onship team.

The Hawks ad­vance to the state Fed­er­a­tion Class B semi­fi­nals against Lawrence Wood­mere Academy in two weeks in Glens Falls.

Haynes seemed to ig­nite the Hawks by drain­ing a huge 3-pointer to start the sec­ond half, and he had 14 of his game-high 18 af­ter half­time.

“Ev­ery time I hit a three, my team­mates get ex­cited,” Haynes said. “It boosts our con­fi­dence.”

O’Hara coach Tony Pul­virenti had a good idea that his team would re­bound in the sec­ond half.

“We just had to elim­i­nate our mis­takes,” Pul­virenti said. “We kept our guys men­tally sane. We knew it was go­ing to be more of a men­tal game than phys­i­cal.

“We had to drive seven hours to play on a for­eign court, so it took a while. But once we cut down on our mis­takes, we were fine.”

The Hawks also re­ceived 11 points and 15 re­bounds from se­nior for­ward Haakim Siner.

“Our se­niors re­ally stepped up,” Pul­virenti said. “They were re­ally fo­cused.

“Haakim is one of the best re­bound­ers in the area. Ev­ery one of his re­bounds was big.”

Pul­virenti re­al­ized that Haynes’ three to start the third quar­ter was huge. The shot keyed an 8-0 run that en­abled the Hawks to gain their first lead of the game at 21-20.

“It def­i­nitely helped him,” Pul­virenti said. “Once we saw one of his 3-point­ers go in, it felt good to us and those three points felt like 10 the way the game was go­ing.”

The Hawks took the lead for good in the fourth quar­ter on five con­sec­u­tive points from Haynes, who nailed an­other 3-pointer to push the lead to a com­fort­able 35-28 with 4:17 re­main­ing.

Haynes then scored four points in the fi­nal 1:10 to seal the deal. Siner also made four free throws in the clos­ing sec­onds.

“We ex­e­cuted our game plan in the fourth quar­ter,” said Pul­virenti, who saw his team outscore the Raiders, 177, over the fi­nal eight min­utes.

Ju­nior for­ward Avion Har­ris added eight points for the win­ners. Wil­liam East­wick paced Regis (20-6) with 12 points.

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