So many basketball teams would have succumbed
after letting a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away.
Bishop Maginn never flinched.
“Coach said stay focused, keep your heads up and keep playing,” senior forward Shimeek Johnson said after fueling the Golden Griffins’ emotionally charged 71-69 overtime win Friday night at rival Christian Brothers Academy.
“He also said keep scoring because they were scoring.”
Johnson forced overtime on a three-point basket as the buzzer sounded and scored his team’s first six points of the extra session, and Terron Victoria and Khaliq Gross both sank two clutch free throws in the waning seconds as Bishop Maginn took charge of the Big 10 championship race.
“It feels good to win in this building, but we’ve got to keep going,” said Johnson, who finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. “Bishop Maginn has never won a Big 10 championship, and we’ve still got some things to do.”
The state’s No. 5-ranked Class AA team improved to 13-0 in the league with three games left and 16-1
overall after its 12th consecutive victory, that streak also including a 54-45 triumph over CBA (12-2, 16-2). Bishop Maginn wrestled the Section II title away from CBA last March, and is now in position to take its league banner, too.
“We were in foul trouble. Things weren’t looking so good out there, and we just found a way. We don’t quit,” said Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley. “I’m so proud of my guys, but I’m not going to let them rest on their laurels. There’s still work to be done.”
Bishop Maginn did some of its best work in the third quarter, using an 18-7 surge to go up, 50-37, and when James Torres converted a three-point play early in the fourth, its advantage ballooned to 16, at 53-37. The Brothers responded by scoring 20 unanswered points before a frenzied, sold-out crowd, with Malcolm Austin’s three-point play giving the hosts a 57-53 lead at the 1:15 mark.
Austin delivered 11 of those 20 points, nailing a three-point basket, converting two three-point plays and scoring on a putback, that hoop making it 54-53 and giving CBA its first lead since 5-2.
“The kids were hustling, diving on the floor. We got some stops and found guys who were open,” said CBA coach Dave Doemel. “It was great. I thought we had the game won, and we didn’t execute down the stretch.”
John Mantas had given CBA a 60-57 lead on two free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining. On Bishop Maginn’s ensuing trip down, Gross had the ball at the top of the circle and passed to his right, to Johnson, who swished his three as time expired.
“We practice that play every day. We stole it from an NBA team,” said Hurley. “Gross drew two guys and found the open man, like he’s supposed to. That was a great senior play by Gross.”
And a huge basket for Johnson, whose only other fourth-quarter points were two foul shots that made it 57-55 with 59.4 seconds left.
“Shimeek made a heck of a shot under duress,” Doemel said of the 6-foot-7 Central Connecticut-bound senior. “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. That wasn’t an easy one.”
Two jumpers by Johnson gave Bishop Maginn a 64-62 lead in overtime, and after Kameron Ritter tied it on a drive, Johnson put the Griffins up for good when he grabbed his own miss and scored on a putback among a slew of bodies with 1:15 to go.
Johnson had also come up with a superb performance Tuesday in a 69-55 win over Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, totaling 27 points and 12 rebounds.
“I challenged him after our game Tuesday,” Hurley said. “I told him, ‘I want to see you do it on the road, at CBA.’ ”
Victoria’s two free throws extended Maginn’s lead to 69-65 with 17.4 seconds to play, and after Ritter scored on a drive, Gross sank a pair from the line with 7.2 seconds left. Austin missed a three-point basket after that, snared the long rebound, and the senior swingman hit a buzzer-beating jumper to close with 24 points.
Ritter scored 15 points, DeAndre Kennedy-Ebron had 14 points, and Andrew Stire added eight points and 10 rebounds for the state’s
No. 12-ranked team, which had won its 10 previous games.
“We can be disappointed, but we made a great effort,” Doemel said. “My guys played their hearts out.”
Taran Buie, Victoria and Gross scored 11, 10 and eight points, respectively, for Maginn. Gross and Johnson both netted five points in the third quarter, and Antonio
Davis scored on two putbacks, as the Griffins extended their 32-30 lead to 50-37.
Buie 5-1-11, Victoria 4-2-10, Kargbo 3-1-7, Johnson 9-2-23, Davis 2-1-5, Torres 3-1-7, Gross 2-3-8. Totals: 28-11-71.
Austin 8-6-24, Kennedy 6-2-14, Mantas 1-2-5, Stire 3-2-8, Creighton 1-0-3, Ritter 6-3-15. Totals: 25-15-69.
Bishop Maginn 20 12 18 10 11 — 71
CBA 12 18 7 23 9 — 69
Three-point goals: Gross, Johnson 3, Mantas, Creighton, Austin 2.
More from The Daily Gazette: