All it took as a little spark.
Second-seeded Xaverian trailed Holy Cross by two points in the final seconds of the third quarter and was struggling on offense. The Clippers turned that around by scoring the final five points of the frame, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Zach Bruno right in front of his team’s bench. That was all they needed.
“It kind of energized us,” said senior point guard Doyin Isaac. “It kind of got us going again. That got us all hyped up, got our feeling back.”
The quick spurt proved to be the start of a game-changing run that propelled Xaverian to a 57–42 victory over the No. 3 Knights in the Catholic High School Athletic Association Brooklyn-Queens boys’ basketball semifinals Wednesday night at Christ the King.
The Clippers went on a 19–0 run over the third and fourth quarters to take a 46–29 lead with just over 3:00 play in the game. Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said his team was playing tight and needed the emotional lift.
“That shot was like adrenaline, and they got a nice flow going after that,” he said.
It is the Clippers’ first appearance in the diocesan title game since 2010. Xaverian faces defending city and state Federation champion Christ the King in the final on Friday at 7:30 pm at Christ the King. The top-seeded Royals beat No. 4 Archbishop Molloy 69–43 in the other semifinal.
Getting to play for a championship is what the Clippers squad was striving for after going through some growing pains last season.
“It’s real big for us,” said senior forward Sayon Charles. “It’s important to us — to the program and around the school. We basically want to do it for each other.”
Isaac paced Xaverian (20–5) with 18 points, Charles had 15, and Najee Larcher chipped in 10. Jermaine Bishop led Holy Cross (12–13) with 16 points, Christian Wilson netted 11, and Chaz Platt added eight.
Xaverian got out to a 10–0 start with Larcher and Charles dominating the paint. They combined for seven blocked shots in the first quarter and changed countless other Knights attempts. The duo did the same and controlled the boards when Xaverian pulled away late.
“Our coach told us Holy Cross was going to attach the basket harder,” Larcher said. “We were just told to protect the basket.”
Holy Cross responded by clamping down on defense and closed the half on a 14–4 run to go into the break tied at 14–14. It took the Clippers nearly a quarter to get going again, but Xaverian is exactly where it expected to be now.
“Since last year we said it was a two-year plan,” Isaac said. “We have been getting ready for this.”