BRONX, NY - The feud between NYCHoops.net #2 ranked Cardinal Hayes and #10 ranked Mt. Saint Michaels is as intense and deeply rooted as is the rivalry between New York and Boston teams. Tuesday's game between the two Bronx Catholic League schools wasn't just about winning but about winning convincingly. So when the Cardinals went into the Mountaineers' house and took them down, 67-52, in their first Class AA game against each other, it was even more gratifying.
"I feel this was a big win for us psychologically, "said Amadou Sidibe who scored a game high 23 points.
According to Sidibe's teammate Jalen Jenkins (12 points), the Mountaineers coach and players had been trash talking since the season began. "They said they were going to beat Hayes so we came in here and got a fifteen point win," he said.
Last season, the two schools played each other twice and also in the CHSAA A championship before both terams were upgraded the Class AA. "We were down by twenty and came all the way back to lose," said Jenkins. "We definitely wanted to come in here and make a statement."
Intent on making that statement, the Cardinals open up with an 8-2 run as Jenkins scored a nice up and under in the paint but Mt. Saint Michael was not going down that easily. Penetration by 5'9" senior PG Malik Gill(13 points) and a jumper by Anthony Maestre (8 points) would finally cut into the Cardinals lead which had grown to 8 points with 1:18 left in the first quarter. The Mountaineers were still down 15-8 to start the second.
Gill remained on the attack by land as did Maestre from the perimeter as early foul trouble would keep Jenkins off the court. 6'3" senior football standout Omari Manhertz (8 points) also took advantage as the two-sport star banged in the paint. Suddenly, midway through the second quarter, a basket by Rice transfer Ed Correa (10 points) would give the Mountaineers their first albeit brief lead.
Shots by 6th man Donovan Johnson (5 points) would spark a Hayes run and with 1:30 left in the half free-throws by Tyler Wilson (13 points) would put the Cardinal up by eight. Gill would cut the lead in half but Sidibe would draw a foul, score two from the charity stripe keeping Hayes ahead 30-24 at the intermission.
"Jenkins' foul trouble really hurt us," said Hayes head coach Joe Lod at the half. "I just told the guys to keep their cool."
Manhertz once again cut the Cardinals lead down to four as he bowled over Cardinals as if going for first downs . Both teams would battle on both ends of the court but neither team made headway as the Cardinals' lead remained at 4 to start the final quarter.
Hayes's guard finally got their bigs more involved in the offense and with 6:40 left in regulation the lead had extended to 7 points.
The lead slowly began to swell as Mt. Sat. Michaels began to rush their offense and take more chances. Jump shots by Nassir Williams (2 points) and Jenkins plus strong drives by Shavar Newkirk (13 points) and an exclamation point dunk by Sidibe would soon put the game out of reach for the Mountaineers.
"We did a good job on the defensive end," said Coach Lods after the game. "They couldn't stay in front of Tyler Wilson and Shavar played like a senior."
After the win, Jenkins said that he doesn't expect any more trash talking from Mt. Saint Michael. "I expect them to be quiet."
Coach Lods gave NYCHoops.net an exclusive saying that Cardinals Hayes will be entertaining Boys & Girls on January 28th. "We just finalized that today," he said.