BRONX, NY - Two explosive teams that unfortunately won't play against each other during the regular high school season got a chance to go head-to-head.
During Tuesday's championship game of the Tru-Ballaz Pre-High School Classic, Cardinal Hayes (CHSAA) and players from Wings Academy (PSAL) would put the hypothetical match-up to a real test.
In a thrilling pre-season finale, Wings would stage a, 51-50, come-from-behind win against Hayes led by a clutch fourth quarter scoring burst from sophomore point guard Desure Buie (16 points).
Hayes pulled ahead early as their left handed front court of Mustafa Jones (12 points) and Ramiel Coleman (10 points) busted up Wings 2-3 zone from the inside.
Hayes would pull ahead by 9 points to start the second quarter as speedy point guard Tyler Wilson (7 points) continued to wreak havoc with his press break.
Senior guard Marv Berroa (11 points) would finally spark a 9-2 Wings run with a drive down the lane followed by a pull-up three-ball. Wings managed to close the gap to two points but when Hayes tightened their defense, Shavar Newkirk (11 points) would lead the Catholic school on a 9-0 tirade, ending the half ahead 28-19.
In the second half, a relatively quiet Jaequan Brown (9 points) began to have an impact. A tough and-1 basket by Buie would soon tighten the race. Wings was once again within two points of the lead.
Like a heavyweight title fight, both teams began to throw proverbial body blows down the stretch but like Rocky Balboa, Wings seemed to gain momentum even when hit. Jones and Newkirk would push the Hayes' lead back up to 7 points but Buie and Wings would make a way out of no way and tie the game at 48.
Hayes took what could have been a final one point lead but less than stellar foul shooting plus an early and ill-advised attempt at a basket in traffic by Newkirk with 21 seconds left to play, left the door wide open. Buie would draw a foul, knock down free-throws, walking through and closing that door once and for all.
After the win, Buie said he relished the moment. "In the clutch, I want to step up. That's when I do what I do," he said.
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