The Xaverian Clippers edged Bishop Loughlin, 64–60, in a back-and-forth Catholic High School basketball game that came down to the final seconds.
With his team up 61–57, Xaverian senior Brian Bernardi found himself in hostile territory with 55.6 seconds left on the clock.
“I couldn’t hear anything, this place is so loud,” he said. “It’s definitely one of the craziest places to play. I calmed down a lot on the second shot, after missing the first, and I made it.”
He gave Xaverian a 62–57 lead, but Loughlin wasn’t about to go down easily. With 30 seconds on the clock, Michael Williams, Loughlin’s stud sophomore, hit a 3-pointer cutting the lead to two.
Williams, who finished with 19 points, hit three 3s in the second half, carrying the team on his back for spurts.
“He didn’t really shoot well in the first half, those shots usually fall for him,” explained Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez. “It’s just, these young players have a lot of confidence in themselves. These kids will always play hard ’til the end.”
Loughlin (10-11, 3-8 ‘AA’) on the year did play hard until the end.
On the inbounds play, Xaverian left the ball in the hands of its general, Burns, who killed 15 seconds off the clock before passing the ball to Shakeel Kemp, who was then fouled.
Kemp would go on to sink two crucial foul shots, extending Xaverian’s lead to four, and ultimately seal the win. Loughlin did get another possession, one in which it air-balled a three pointer, and missed out on the rebound.
“These are a tough bunch of kids, we lost a couple games early that we didn’t close out,” Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said of his team. “Now the last two weeks we’ve had a bunch of games like this. These games go to the mentally tough kids, and these kids are all about playing the right way.”
Xaverian (15-7, 7-5) has put a small winning streak of three games together, and winning six of their last eight — something they hope to carry into their final games and the playoffs.
“This gives us a lot of momentum going into the playoffs,” said Xaverian senior hoop star Dillon Burns. “This is our last league game, coming in here to a packed gym, I thought we played very well.”
Alesi, who doesn’t often disagree with his star senior, had a different message to convey when asked what he thought this game meant for his team going forward.
“Don’t get me wrong this was a great win but by practice tomorrow, it is forgotten,” Alesi said, explaining that his team is focusing on the playoffs.
“I like our chances,” he said. “We can put a run together. It’s just a matter of learning how to close, I think we’re getting better at that.
“I think we’ll be fine,” he said.