JAMAICA, NY - Two times Daniel Dingle went to the line with a chance to give St. Raymond the lead.
The first time was late in the fourth quarter, with only a few seconds left in regulation and St. Ray's was losing to Cardinal Hayes by a point. After being solid from the line for the majority of the game, Dingle shot an air ball on his first attempt. Dingle shook off the miss and made the second and the game went to overtime.
Dingle was fouled with 20 seconds left in the first overtime period and the score was tied at 53. All he needed to do was make one to give St. Ray's the lead, and that's just what he did. Hayes did get a good look at a go ahead shot when Naasir Williams had an open view of the basket from the left corner. The ball rimmed out and that was the last real threat of St.Ray's losing the game. They held on to the slim 54-53 victory and will face off against Holy Cross Sunday afternoon.
Dingle was a monster all evening and would not be denied the chance at playing in the championship game. Ever since Dingle was at St. Ray's, he and his teammates had never gotten out of the semi-final round. That changed and Dingle was a big reason they were able to succeed. He scored a game high 24 points, grabbed 8 boards and had 7 blocks. He was almost directly involved in every play.
Dingle was at the line because his coach, Oliver Antigua, put the ball in the senior's hands when the game was up for grabs. When Dingle got the ball in the post, he started to try to figure out how he could get his shot off. He was guarded by Fadil Yacoubou, and Yacoubou had the same result both times he guarded Dingle.
Yacoubou guarded Dingle both times Dingle was given the benefit of any doubt and was called for a foul. Both times Yacoubou was called for a hold in the middle of Dingle's move. The first foul was probably more pressurized, only because Dingle's team was down 50-49.
When he shot the airball, Dingle tried to laugh it off in his head. He said he only thought of good and positive things, all while victualing himself making the shot. Dingle said he was able to clear the thoughts in his head when he was at the charity stripe. But it didn't take him long to get his head together and he made the second free throw to tie the game. This was after the air ball. Dingle doesn't know why he shot an air-ball; he thought maybe it slipped out of his hand.
"I've been here before" Dingle said after the game. "I really looked at it as practice"
Fellow senior Larry Graves was ecstatic about his friend Dingle making his free throws.
"I told him, show them why you going to Temple, and that's what he did. He knocked it down, and that's what he did, he knocked it down. That's why he's going to be a good player in the Big East" Graves said.
It was a gritty comeback from St. Ray's. They were down 48-41 with 2:23 left in the third. Nkereuwem Okoro took the ball the length of the court and finished with a little lay-up. Dingle looked just as determined on the next possession and drove hard to the basket. He was fouled and made the three point play.
Okoro (11 points) answered that with a basket of his own, plus the foul. He made the free throw to give his team the lead late in regulation. It was a good comeback, in less than a minute, Ray's went from being down 7 to up 49-48.
Hayes head coach Joe Lods was extremely down after the game. One thing that he expressed after the game was he thought it should have come down to what was happening on the court. He wanted to make sure that he wasn't necessarily having sour grapes, but he thought both calls against Yacoubou came at a bad point in the game and by the same referee.
"At that point in the game, when you have a gym full of division one and division two players let the kids decide, determine the outcome of the game. Just my opinion" Lods said.