BROOKLYN, NY - "They took everything out of us," said a surprised and relieved Bob Hurley.
On Saturday, the legendary head coach of RivalsHigh 100 No. 1-ranked Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony rose from the ashes against No. 42 Brooklyn (N.Y.) Boys & Girls (ranked No. 2 in New York City) during the championship of the SNY Invitational at Long Island University. Down at the end of three of the four quarters, the St. Anthony regrouped in the final quarter to come from behind and win, 43-38.
From the opening tip-off, Boys & Girls tried to set the tone. Going on an 8-2 run, Jeff Neverson (11 points, 7 rebounds), Leroy Fludd (8 points, 3 rebounds) and Mike Taylor (9 points, 7 rebounds) benefitted from the highly effective Boys & Girls pressure defense that kept the Friars shooting at just 28 percent. St. Anthony's point guard/forward Kyle Anderson (10 points, 8 rebounds) would finally break up the Kangaroos run, but the up-tempo pace continued to yield rewards for the home team whose lead grew to six points with 3:47 left in the first quarter. Malik Nichols (4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) closed out strong for Boys & Girls, but a 3-pointer from Myles Mack (5 points, 2 assists) would close the gap substantially.
Ahead 12-10 as the second quarter began, Neverson would increase the Kangaroos lead early. Taylor hit a 3-ball with 5:13 on the clock to cross the 1,000-point career mark and pushing his team's lead to six.
But St. Anthony's was a disciplined squad and continuously knocked at the door of the Roos. With 2:41 left in the half, a 3-pointer by Mack would give the Friars a brief lead, but advantage shifted as each team countered the other. A solid defensive effort by Boys & Girls would allow point guard Antoine Slaughter (4 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) to get the last shot of the half, giving the Kangaroos a 22-19 lead.
Coach Hurley said that even before the game he realized that he may have misjudged his opponent.
"When we saw them in the hallway on our way to the court and I said to myself these guys are men," he said.
Hurley said that he actually apologized to his team at the half for underestimating Boys & Girls and made some adjustments.
The Kangaroos seemed to make some adjustments as well. At the top of the third quarter, Neverson drained a three-ball and a pass from Nichols to junior forward added 5 points onto their three point first half lead. St. Anthony made some strides as Jerome Frink (10 points, 7 rebounds) was effective in the post but another assist from Nichols to Neverson followed by a bucket from Fludd gave Boys & Girls a 31-21 lead with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Coach Hurley called a timeout in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but another basket by Fludd along with Friar turnovers bumped the Kangaroos lead up to 12 points. Trying to recoup from an 11-2 run, St. Anthony found itself in a deeper hole than it had at the half.
Lucious Jones (12 points, 7 rebounds) drew a foul as the third quarter ended and shaved off two points off Boys & Girls lead, but the Friars were still down 35-27 as the final quarter began.
Anderson began to utilize his height advantage, becoming more aggressive offensively and managed to cut Boys & Girls lead to 6 points early and the Friars began to employ traps against.
Controlling the tempo throughout most of the game, Boys & Girls began to negatively respond to a dose of its own medicine and began to rush shots. With 7:05, Taylor picked up an offensive foul and Anderson countered on the subsequent possession, taking two more points off St. Anthony's deficit. Josh Brown, a 6-2 sophomore, attacked the rim and drew a foul, pulling St. Anthony's within two. Taylor would drop a trey for the Kangaroos but they were clearly back peddling. While Boys & Girls shot 40 percent, it shot just 20 percent from 3-point range, and a dismal 40 percent from the free-throw line compared to the Friars 72 percent.
St. Anthony's continued to apply more and more pressure and Boys & Girls completely unraveled. Jones would eventually tie the game at 38 and Anderson would give the Friars their first lead since the second quarter from the free-throw line. After multiple miscues and turnovers, Kangaroos head coach Ruth Lovelace called a timeout to settle her team as the Roos were only down 40-38 with 25.2 seconds left in regulation.
But out of the huddle, Taylor would fall short on a jumper. Frink drew a foul for St. Anthony's with 16.6 seconds left, but would go 1-for-2, giving the Kangaroos a chance to take the game into OT. Fludd drew a foul on a shot with 6.1 seconds left in the game but missed both free throws. Another miss on the offensive rebound by Neverson and the Friars would survived the defensive storm.