BY ALBERT ROMAN
The Cardinal Haynes’ varsity basketball team completed its magical season with a 64-62 upset victory over Archbishop Molloy in the Catholic High School Athletic Association Championship on March 12.
The fifth seeded Cardinals were led by CHSAA Playoff Most Valuable Player sophomore Joe Toussaint, who posted 12 points, nine assists and four rebounds, while junior Tyrese Williams led the team in scoring with 15 points and six rebounds.
Despite the lack of size, the Cardinals came out playing physical against the number one seeded Molloy. They often double, even triple teamed the seven-foot-one-inch Molloy sophomore Moses Brown.
Both teams did not score for the first two minutes, until Brown ended the drought with a free throw. Both teams exchanged scores until Toussaint pushed Cardinal Haynes ahead with a three-point field goal. Senior Jackson Vertucci immediately responded for the Stanners with a three. After the score, the Cardinals concluded the quarter on a 6-0 run giving them a 13-8 lead.
In the quarter, the Cardinals drew two offensive fouls and caused six turnovers. In the process, Brown drew two fouls and would not return until 2:34 remaining in the second quarter.
Now without their center, the Stanners opened the second quarter with a layup by senior John Herring. Four straight scores by the Molloy tied the game at 17, causing Cardinal Hayes to call a timeout.
Following the timeout, the Cardinals responded with a 7-0 run, which junior Terry Dawkins capped off with an offensive put-back after three consecutive misses. The teams would continue to trade scores until senior Sherif Conteh’s two-point field goal concluded the quarter.
Molloy sophomore Cole Anthony struggled to find his shot in the first half going 0-6 from the field, but provided four points, six rebounds, five assist and two steals. The Cardinals led 35-29 at halftime.
To open the third, Williams and fellow junior Jontai Williams hit consecutive three pointers to build their largest lead of the game, 12, forcing a Molloy timeout.
Anthony began to chip away at the lead with his first field goal of the game, while also drawing a foul. He began a 11-6 run for the Stanners. Brown also had his own three-point play with a dunk and foul during the run.
Anthony scored another layup and again drew a foul, his third of the quarter, with 0.7 seconds remaining. He proceeded to hit the free throw to cut the deficit to three, 49-46.
Two free throws by Brown opened the final period. The Cardinals struggled to score and a dunk by Brown gave the Stanners their first lead, 5-49, since 6:16 in the first quarter.
A Molloy turnover led to a three-point field goal by T. Williams, recapturing the lead for Cardinal Hayes. Herring would tie the game with a jump shot with 4:54 remaining in the game.
Toussaint again put the Cardinals ahead with a jump shot over a contesting Anthony, who came back and responded on the other end with a jump shot of his own, tying the game at 54.
Cardinal Hayes’ senior Mark Jackson began his own 7-2 run with an offensive put-back, followed by a jumper after a Brown field goal. As the game remained tied at 58, Jackson scored a layup and drew a foul, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. He nailed the free throw giving the Cardinals a three-point advantage, 61-58.
Brown drew a foul and proceeded to sink both free throws with 29.6 seconds remaining in the game. The Stanners intentionally fouled T. Williams, sending him to the free throw line. He sank the first and missed the second.
Holding onto a slight two-point advantage, Toussaint produced the biggest play of the season for Cardinal Hayes. With time winding down, he stole the ball from Anthony and drove to the basket, missing the layup, but drawing a foul. The team finished the game by forcing 17 Molloy turnovers.
He drained the two free throws to build a four point lead, 64-60, with 14.9 seconds remaining. Anthony quickly drove the ball down the lane, missing a layup, but Brown scored an offensive rebound.
Another intentional foul by Molloy put junior J. Williams at the line for a 1-and-1. He missed, giving Molloy one final play. With no timeouts remaining, Anthony drove the length of the court and missed a potential game-tying layup to end the game.
The Cardinals grabbed the rebound and launched the ball to the ceiling commencing the celebration.
Anthony finished with a near triple double, 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Brown added 19 points and 17 rebounds. Cardinal Haynes shot an efficient 47.1 percent from three on 8-17 shooting. Throughout the game, there were a total of nine lead changes and five ties.
The Cardinals captured their first CHSAA “AA” championship since 1990, when former NBA player Jamal Mashburn led the team to victory.