MINEOLA, NY - After falling behind by as many as 11 in the 1st half, Chaminade could've rolled over and thrown in the towel against the bigger and more potent St. Mary's squad but they didn't.
The Flyers actually came all the way back to take a lead in the final seconds after a Jack Carrigan three, but Devonte Green did what he does best, he got in the lane and nailed 2 free throws with 9 seconds left to give the Gaels the lead for good and the 76-73 win.
The game started out good for Chaminade as they scored the first 6 points of the game, and 6'6" senior big man Jon Patterson said that playing a very similar St. Mary's team last year helped this team believe more.
"They brought back basically the same team from last year so we knew we could compete and play with them because we felt like we had seen them before." Patterson said.
One player they hadn't seen though was Green, the dynamic freshman was in fine form on this day, and really carved up the Flyers defense. He had to step up even more because big man Jessie Govan picked up 2 fouls early in the first quarter, something that Gaels coach Bill Harkins knew would affect the way his team played.
"Jessie in foul trouble hurt us because we are a different team in so many ways with him off the floor. He didn't get nearly the amount of touches we'd like him to get either, but it was ok in the end." Coach said. Harkins.
It was ok because Green rallied the team from that early deficit and scored 16 points in the opening half, and Stephen Milhaven picked up the slack on the boards. That combined with Chaminade's struggles shooting from the perimeter resulted in a 38-28 lead at the break for St. Mary's.
Much like the start of the game, Chaminade came out of the locker room hot. They applied pressure and created 3 early turnovers to start the 3rd on a 10-2 run to cut the St. Mary's lead to 42-40. Green off a timeout made a beautiful pass inside to Govan for a baby hook, and then Green again created off a steal getting in the lane for the deuce. After cutting the Gaels lead back down to 1 late in the 3rd I was Patrick Jackson coming up scoring 6 straight to close the quarter with St. Mary's back up 58-51.
The 4th had all the twists and turns you would expect in a rivalry game like this. After getting up as much as 9 early in the period, Chaminade fought back. Patterson would step out and connect on back to back short jumpers, and shifty guard Liam Murphy would connect going to the rim and the lead for St. Mary's was just 2 with 36 seconds to go, and after a Gaels turnover, Thomas O'Connell found Carrigan wide open in the right corner for the 3, his only points of the game, to see Chaminade take their first lead since very early on 73-72 with 15.1 to go.
St. Mary's called timeout and Harkins drew up a play in the huddle to let Green do his thing. He only had 1 instruction to the lead guard.
"I just said do it under control and make sure you get to the line."
The play worked as that's exactly what happened. Green got the ball and dribbled through 2 defenders down the lane and got fouled. He calmly sank both free throws to see the Gaels go up 74-73 with 8 seconds left. Chaminade had a chance but an errant pass by O'Connell was taken away by Milhaven who got fouled with less than 1 second to go. He drained both FT's to ice it and the Gaels got the hard fought road win 76-73.
Green led all scores for St. Mary's with 30 points while adding 8 assists. Jackson added 19, while Milhaven had 11 and 14 rebounds. Patterson carried Chaminade with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Murphy chipped in with 21 in defeat.
The winning basket was drawn up for Green and he came through in the clutch situation. In describing the play, the freshman Green had only one thing on his mind.
"I just wanted to attack. If we attacked the rim I knew they would foul and they did. Credit coach for that play and believing I could come through." Green said after the win.
It was a huge win in Harkins' mind, not just for the win, but how they did it.
"They could given up after giving up the lead, but they didn't, they came through against a veteran team on the road and for that I'm happy."