O’Hara blocks late rally by LWA

Will face Glens Falls for Class B Fed ti­tle to­day

The Buffalo News - - WORLD NEWS - By Miguel Ro­driguez

GLENS FALLS — It was a gamble, but some risks are worth tak­ing, es­pe­cially when a sweet re­ward is within reach.

The Car­di­nal O’Hara boys bas­ket­ball game couldn’t be hap­pier with Justin Hem­phill’s de­ci­sion to go for it.

Hem­phill’s late shot block was among the many key fourth-quar­ter plays made by the Hawks, who ral­lied from a five-point deficit to earn a 48-46 win against Al­liance of In­de­pen­dent Schools cham­pion Lawrence Wood­mere Academy (L.I.) on Saturday in Cool In­sur­ing Arena in a New York State Fed­er­a­tion Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons Class B semi­fi­nal.

An es­ti­mated 2,000 watched as Hem­phill raced from just past cen­ter court to­ward the Hawks’ bas­ket de-

ter­mined to make amends. Hem­phill had turned the ball over with a pre­dictable, lazy pass. That led to Tyler St. Furcy hav­ing a break­away chance to trim a 45-42 lead. Hem­phill, with four fouls, had to de­cide be­tween try­ing to con­test a shot, risking his dis­qual­i­fy­ing fifth foul, or just yield­ing the points.

With 1 minute, 46 sec­onds left, a time when points were tough to come by, the de­ci­sion was sim­ple.

“Af­ter I made that pass I had to get back,” said Hem­phill, who fin­ished with 12 points, 12 re­bounds, three as­sists and two blocks while sit­ting at times due to foul trouble. “I met him at the bas­ket. I was just pray­ing it’s not a foul.”

It was a clean block as Hem­phill got both hands on the ball.

“Chase-down blocks are some­thing I like to do,” the 6-foot-4 Hem­phill said.

“I think it was the game-sav­ing block,” O’Hara coach Tony Pul­virenti said.

“That’s just heart, play­ing hard and want­ing to win, no mat­ter what,” Hawks se­nior Haakim Siner said.

As a re­sult, Car­di­nal O’Hara (26-1) earned the right to play in the fi­nal game of the en­tire bas­ket­ball sea­son in the state at 4 p.m. Sun­day.

Of course, there won’t be too many folks here root­ing for the Hawks, as home­town state pub­lic schools cham­pion Glens Falls ad­vanced to the Fed­er­a­tion fi­nal by beat­ing PSAL cham­pion South Bronx, 77-70, in over­time be­hind a 42-point ef­fort by Syra­cus­esignee and New York State Mr. Bas­ket­ball Joe Gi­rard III.

Be­fore Glens Falls played a thriller be­fore a sellout crowd, O’Hara and Lawrence Wood­mere rum­bled in a tight one in which the scrappy Hawks proved to be more than up to the task in deal­ing with Lawrence Wood­mere’s height ad­van­tage.

St. Furcy fin­ished with 18 points for Lawrence Wood­mere (22-5), but O’Hara turned 6-foot-10 Ai­dan Igiehon into a non-fac­tor. Hem­phill and Jaedin Cottman along with switch­ing de­fenses left him some­what flus­tered. Igiehon fouled out with five points and five re­bounds with just three shot at­tempts. The Louisville signee av­er­aged 23.5 points and 10.5 re­bounds this sea­son.

“We had strat­egy on man-to-man and help-side de­fense and then we went zone in the sec­ond half and did an even bet­ter job of keep­ing him away from the bas­ket and get­ting him in foul trouble,” Pul­virenti said.

Still, O’Hara trailed 22-16 at half­time and 35-30 through three quar­ters. It was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game the Hawks stared at deficits in win-or-go-home sit­u­a­tion. They’re still alive and fly­ing. The State Catholic High Schools cham­pion O’Hara scored 12 of the game’s next 15 points to seize the lead for good. Con­sec­u­tive tra­di­tional three-point plays by Siner (17 points, six re­bounds) and Jer­maine Haynes Jr. (12 points, two steals) and two free throws by Hem­phill made it 38-35 O’Hara with 5:30 left. Larry Rhabb drained a three to tie the game for the last time. Hem­phill fol­lowed with a tip-in put­back.

Siner made a three from the cor­ner to make it 45-41 with 3:42 left. The teams then com­bined to make just one field goal the rest of the way, with O’Hara mak­ing 3 of 4 free throws.

O’Hara will play in its first fi­nal since win­ning the Fed­er­a­tion ti­tle in 1994.

While the Hawks made just enough bas­kets and got the stops they needed to get there, Saturday’s win will sim­ply be known in O’Hara cir­cles as the “Hem­phill block” game.

“That’s not go­ing to show up on the score sheet,” Pul­virenti said. “He took a chance, but big-time play­ers take big-time chances.”

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Car­di­nal O’Hara play­ers cel­e­brate their Class B Fed­er­a­tion semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Lawrence Wood­mere Academy Fri­day in Glens Falls.

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Car­di­nal O’Hara’s Justin Hem­phill, who had 12 points and 12 re­bounds, drives to the bas­ket against Lawrence Wood­mere Academy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.