It was a back-and-forth battle between two ranked teams, but when it was all said and done, the No. 20 Brooklyn (N.Y.) Bishop Laughlin Lions were the ones celebrating a 59-58 victory over the No. 53 New York (N.Y.) Rice Raiders in the CHSAA semifinals Wednesday night.
The Lions, ranked No. 3 by NYCHoops.net, would pull out in front quickly as both teams tried to impose their game on the other. Brandon Frazier would drain a 3-ball and 5-8 junior guard Anthony Givens would put the Lions ahead, 9-4 with 3:01 left in the first.
The Raiders, ranked No. 4 by NYCHoops.net and the defending New York State Federation champs, would get within two points of the lead as Jermaine Sanders began to score, but Loughlin remained ahead, 13-11, as the second quarter began.
Although the grind 'em out pace favored Loughlin, shot blocks by Kadeem Jack and a bucket in transition by Sanders would give Rice its first lead with 6:20 left in the half.
The lead would sashay back and forth as the tempo picked up. With the game now in Rice's comfort zone, Shane Southwell sparked off a 9-2 run at the 3:34 mark which put the Raiders up 29-21 with strong play by 6-1 junior guard Kevin Perez.
Down 29-23 to start the third quarter, Jayvaughn Pinkston began to attack Rice in the paint. Jack would pick up two fouls defending Pinkston and Frazier would retake the lead for Loughlin, 34-33 with 2:32 left in the third.
Again the lead would bounce back and forth until a trey from Sanders gave Rice a four-point lead with 1:10 left in the quarter. Loughlin was resilient and a 3-ball by 6-2 junior guard, Davonte Dunham and a buzzer beating 3-ball by Pinkston would put the Lions ahead, 42-40, to start the fourth quarter.
Devaughn Reid, a 6-0 junior, would tie the score at 44 for Rice with 5:44 left in regulation, but that would be last time the Raiders would be even. 5-11 junior Mark York would also come up big for the Lions, snaring 14 rebounds - 12 in the second half.
Frazier and Pinkston would get hot from the perimeter to extend Loughlin's lead to 56-47 with 1:30 left to play but Rice would not go away quietly.
Sanders would swish a trey followed by another basket off a steal off Loughlin's inbound. A second three by Sanders with 43.3 ticks on the clock and the score was 56-55.
Pinkston was fouled and go 1-for-2 from the line to put Loughlin up a deuce with 39.7 on the clock. With 15.1 seconds, Southwell tried but flubbed an alley-oop attempt and on the rebound, Pinkston was fouled once again.
This time, Pinkston hit both free throws give the Lions a four-point lead with 6.5 seconds left to play. Needing a four-point play, Sanders would sink a three-ball at the buzzer which would be too little too late.
Pinkston scored a game-high 23 points to go with 9 rebounds. Frazier would add 17 points. Sanders was the high scorer for Rice with 21 points with Southwell and Jack scoring 10 apiece.
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