JAMAICA, NY - Guess it's a good thing that Thaddeus Hall split a pair of free throws to give Jefferson a four point cushion.
Jefferson won the Brooklyn Borough Championship 66-62 over Boys & Girls behind a monster effort from Hall, who scored 32 points in the game.
Because if they won by three there would have been a real question about the mysterious three points that was added to Jefferson's score near the end of the first quarter.
Boys dominated the end of the first quarter, Bryce Jones knocking down a pull-up jumper to cap a 12-2 run to take a 21-10 lead over Jefferson. Nazai Stokes was fouled with 7-3 seconds left. The scoreboard said 21-13 and Stokes made two free throws and the period ended with the score 21-15.
Partway through the second quarter, the officials called timeout and went to look at the book. After about 3 minutes, the ball was put back into play without any changes. Boys dominated the period with Joel Angus (11 points) scoring 7 straight points and Leroy "Truck" Fludd catching a one-handed alley-oop from Jones (11 points) to put his team up 11 points with less than a minute left in the first half. The score at intermission was Boys 37-25.
Jefferson is a team that makes a habit of falling behind and somehow getting themselves back into the game and this game was no exception. Hall said that his team seems to coast in first halves for no particular reason. Teams use up all their energy in the first half and then Jefferson fights all the way back and wins the game. He agreed it isn't the best strategy, but they keep winning.
The second half saw Hall and Jefferson blitz Boys, outscoring the Kangaroos 21-10 in the third period. Boys didn't play well in the period, missing many easy lay-ups and dunk attempts. Hall scored 9 points in the third period and led the Orange Wave to within one point going into the final period.
The game came down to the final seconds. Fludd (18 points) hit a jumper from just inside the three point arc to give Boys a 62-61 lead. Jefferson junior guard Jaquan Lynch tried to answer on the next possession but missed the mid-range jumper. Boys got the rebound and called timeout with 40.1 seconds left. Boys coach Ruth Lovelace called a timeout to try and set up a play.
They never got a chance to execute it as Fludd walked when he caught the inbounds pass. Hall was fouled driving to the basket and he made the two free throws to give Jefferson the lead for good. Boys guard Dykweil Bryan (12 points) missed the shot on their next possession and Orange Wave junior guard Rachard Moody (13 points) went to the line and made two more free throws to make it 63-60. Boys didn't even get a chance to put up a shot because Jefferson players jumped into the passing lanes and forced a turnover. The ball ended up in Hall's hands and he went to the charity strip to seal the deal. Hall missed the first but made the second to give Jefferson the final four point margin of victory.
The extra point meant that even with the three points that somehow found its way in Jefferson's total subtracted, they still outscored Boys. Still, the phantom three was an issue for head coach Ruth Lovelace after the game.
"I'm very disappointed in the referees for missing that" Lovelace said. "You got three refs in the game... you got somebody at the table all of that. That's major... everybody in the gym had it as a phantom three. Where did those three points come from? It's sad, sad to happen on this stage."
Of course, Jefferson had a different set of emotions. Hall was extremely happy with the outcome. The senior guard was smiling ear to ear when he met the media in the basement of York College.
"I'm excited, no words can explain how I feel" Hall said.
"Truck can't guard me, I don't know why he keeps guarding me, he's too slow. I'm the best player in the city. I'm going to keep saying it until I see myself there and I'm going to prove it. We gonna win the city and win the states."
Hall, who is one of the more confident players in the city, really wanted to win the game against Boys.
"The last time we played them at our house, they was talking on Facebook and they did it again I took it personal. I don't know why they keep doing it, but they keep doing it and that motivates me to win our game and destroy them"
Jefferson won Brooklyn AA outright and now are the Kings of Brooklyn by winning the Borough Championship. It's almost a foregone conclusion; if you win Brooklyn you get the top seed for the PSAL playoffs. Another good thing for the East New York school is that they probably won't have to see Lincoln or Boys again unless both teams are playing at the Garden. That's the goal for the Orange Wave and Hall thinks his team will do it as long as they stay focused.
"We just want to work hard, keep working hard in practice and school. I just want to win it all."