Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Photography.
By David Cordova
Championship Sunday in New York City is an event that everyone looks forward to, especially for a high school game. Yesterday’s CHSAA “AA” city title game was a very exciting one, but one that was reminiscent of a David vs. Goliath type of battle.
The role of Goliath was played by Archbishop Molloy, the winners of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan championship and played a tough national schedule which included out-of-state teams, such as Whitney Young (Chicago), Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and The Patrick School (Hillside, NJ). This team, which had as many as three Division I players, was 21-7 coming into this game and ranked No. 2 in the NY State Sportswriters Association rankings amongst teams from the city.
The role of David was played by Cardinal Hayes, a team that was ranked No. 1 early in the season, despite its youth, also went undefeated during the first ten games of the season. At the time of the game, they were 20-8 and had just come off a win in the CHSAA semifinals over Bishop Loughlin, a team that had many had originally penciled in to play in the championship. The thing about the Cardinals that made them so interesting to watch throughout was that they could be a dangerous team when allowed to get their shots off.
The teams shared one common similarity. Although both programs had very powerful teams, they had been in longstanding droughts when it came to winning championships.
Molloy’s last city championship came in 1987, when former NBA player Kenny Anderson was only a sophomore, in which they would win by the score of 62-44, over ironically, Cardinal Hayes.
Also, Hayes’ last championship in the “AA” division came in 1990, when former NBA player Jamal Mashburn was a senior, who was then bound for the University of Kentucky. The Cardinals won that game, 52-46, over All Hallows. Their most recent championship was in 2007, when they were in the “A” division.
Now, in the present day, it was time for these two schools to end their longtime droughts. In front of a standing-room only crowd of 3,200 people, one of these teams would rise to the occasion and be crowned champions.
Cardinal Hayes 64, Archbishop Molloy 62
The first quarter was a game was a battle, but Molloy’s game plan was simple. Get the ball inside to junior center Moses Brown. And that they did, as they led 8-7, with 3:55 to go. But Cardinal Hayes wasn’t without its guard play as sophomore Joe Toussaint and junior Jontai Williams hit key three-pointers to take a 10-8 lead with over three minutes to go. Then Mark Jackson would make a three-point play with 1:02 to go give the Cardinals a 13-8 lead.
The second quarter brought a lot more excitement as the Stanners stepped up their play and were able to draw fouls. Junior Khalid Moore scored on a dunk with 6:35 to go to cut the deficit to 17-15 and then about ten seconds later, sophomore Cole Anthony would hit two free throws to tie score at 17-17, with 6:25 to go. But Hayes would answer with seven straight points, to take a 24-17 lead, with 3:52 to go. The play of junior Terry Dawkins in the low post and Jontai Williams scoring wise would help the Cardinals lead 35-29 at the half.
Starting off the second half, Hayes got off and running with five consecutive points off of jumpers from Tyrese Williams and Jontai Williams, which would bring the Cardinals ahead by twelve, 41-29, with more than seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
But then Anthony would help the Stanners cut the deficit to seven, 42-35, with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter. Hayes would still remain in the lead, by making smart decisions with their shooting, but the Stanners would get even closer, with Anthony making a three-point play with 0.7 seconds left to get to within three, 46-43.
Molloy would then get within one, 49-48, on two free throws from Brown with 7:28 to go in the fourth quarter. Then with 5:54 to go, Brown would catch a dunk to give the Stanners their first lead of the game, 50-49. The game would then be a see-saw battle between both teams as they would trade baskets throughout.
But then Mark Jackson would give Cardinal Hayes a three-point play and the lead, 61-58, with 1:01 to go in the game. But the game would not be over, as Brown would make a layup with seven seconds left to cut the deficit to 64-62. Anthony would take one final shot, but it would miss as the Cardinals would go on to win their first championship in twenty-seven years in the “AA” division and their first overall championship in ten years.
Tyrese Williams led Cardinal Hayes with 15 points and six rebounds, Jontai Williams would add 13 points and sophomore Joe Toussaint would contribute 12 points and nine rebounds. For Molloy, Brown led with 19 points and 17 rebounds, Anthony added 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and senior John Herring added 12 points in the loss.