Photo courtesy of Jared White.
By David Cordova
It is amazing when a team that nobody expected to do a lot ends up making a statement. That sentiment can be shared when relating to Cardinal Hayes. Fueled by guard-heavy play and a lot of inexperience outside of a couple of players that played varsity last year, the Hayesmen have made plenty of noise so far, winning their first ten games of the season and being ranked No. 1 in New York City by the NY State Sportswriter’s Association.
Unfortunately, the winning streak would not last, as they dropped their last three games, including one to their arch-rivals, St. Raymond, on January 6th. On this day, they would go up against Archbishop Stepinac, another good team in the CHSAA Bronx/Westchester “AA” division. On December 16th in White Plains, Hayes grinded out a 60-58 victory in their home gym. This second game was just as close as the first one, and it would end in crucial fashion.
Hayes 76, Stepinac 70
Both teams started out strong in the beginning and kept the game close in the first quarter. But both teams finished the quarter tied at 13-13.
In the second quarter, Stepinac came out in attack mode, with two consecutive three-pointers by junior Alan Griffin & freshman R.J. Davis to bring them up six, 19-13, with less than five minutes to go.
Then the Crusaders held a nine-point lead, 29-20 with over 1 minute left in the half. Although the Cardinals were getting good contributions from sophomore Joe Toussaint & junior Tyrese Williams, the Crusaders ran off to an eight-point halftime lead, 31-23.
In the third quarter, the Crusaders would continue to attack, bringing their lead to twelve, 35-23, with over six minutes to go. But then moments later, the Cardinals clawed their way back in the game after five consecutive points by Tyrese Williams, which brought Hayes within seven, 39-32, with 5:14 to go in the third.
Then consecutive baskets by junior Terry Dawkins brought the Hayesmen to within three, 43-40, with over two minutes left. And then another Dawkins basket helped give Hayes their first lead of the game at, 45-44, with 1:17 to go in the third quarter.
Hayes continued to bring in more offense in the beginning of the fourth quarter, with a three-pointer by sophomore Joe Toussaint as they took the lead, 50-48, with 6:35 to go. Throughout the final quarter, both teams traded baskets and tied the score multiple times.
In the end, Dawkins and Williams continued to make the difference for the Hayesmen, as they would defeat Stepinac for a second time this season and earn another league victory.
Williams led the Cardinals with 28 points and Dawkins added 25 points, while Toussaint contributed 19 points. For the Crusaders, Davis led with 22 points and junior Xavier Wilson added 13 points in the loss.