BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- For three quarters, it looked like Bishop Loughlin would fold their tents and go home quietly. The terrific junior, Chris Taft, had smashed the Loughlin defense for 33 points during the first three quarters. Taft is a 6-9, 220-pound bruising type of forward.
Taft's great performance along with some help from Shaun Wynn, helped Xaverian earn a 26-point first-half lead. This lead would stretch to 30 points after three quarters. But Loughlin would not quit.
Loughlin, led by the energetic Curtis Sumpter, rallied back to within to within four points at one stage of the fourth quarter. But the balanced attack by Xaverian and some key free throws by Wynn stopped what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in CHSAA history.
But Taft's 33 points and Wynn's 15 helped Xaverian hold off Bishop Loughin, 78-73.
Xaverian jumped out to a 22-6 lead. Taft took advantage of a mismatch defensively. Loughlin first used 6-5 Kirk Bunn to try and handle Taft by himself in the low post. It proved fatal. Taft scored 10 points in the first eight minutes.
Taft continued his low post mastery by adding another 12 points in the second quarter as the Xaverian lead ballooned to 43-17. It stretched to 62-32 after three quarters! Then Loughlin made its run. Loughlin outscored Xaverian, 41-16, in the last eight minutes, an incredible run led by Sumpter.
Sumpter finished the game with 32 points and 17 rebounds. He never sat during the game. He ran the floor from one end to the other no matter what the score. His desire helped will his team back into the game. And they almost came out with the victory.
Give Loughlin credit. They could have died easily in that fourth quarter and they scared the heck out of Xaverian. But Taft is an aircraft carrier who elevated his game again to give Xaverian an important CHSAA win.
It was a great finish to a hard fought game. The teams played hard. There was no taunting. Many college coaches were in attendance. The fans were loud but courteous. Both coaches were outstanding. It was a great night for basketball in Brooklyn.