Louie McCroskey (right) hit a controversial jumper as time expired to lift St. Raymond's H.S. of the Bronx, N.Y. to a thrilling 71-69 victory over Lanier H.S. of Jackson, Miss., on Saturday afternoon at the Prime Time Shootout.
McCroskey, who scored 24 points and earned game MVP honors, got off his jumper as time expired. It was unclear if McCroskey's shot beat the clock, but the refs immediately signaled that it was good, thus ending the contest.
McCroskey's three pointer capped a wild finish that saw the Ravens squander an 11 point fourth quarter lead after a barrage of turnover.
McCroskey had given St. Ray's a 61-50 lead with less than six minutes to play when he found teammate Tariq Atkins (Iona) with a nifty dish.
Lanier decided to pressure St. Raymond's in the backcourt, the result was an incredible 15-0 run that turned the 11 point deficit into a 65-61 lead with 2:41 to play. The Ravens couldn't get the ball over halfcourt, turning the ball over on five straight possessions to aid the Bulldog comeback.
But the biggest catalyst in Lanier's comeback bid was precocious 6-1 sophomore combo guard Monta Ellis, who scored a quick 10 points in the surge that produced the lead for the Bulldogs.
Ellis kick-started the Lanier run with an old fashioned three point play and a three pointer. With the game knotted at 61, he hit a difficult double clutch jumper and capped the run with a pair of free throws at the 2:41 mark to provide the four point cushion.
Moments later, however, Ellis fouled out. St. Raymond kept its composure, even after falling behind by five points in the final 2:07.
McCroskey converted a three point play, and 6-3 junior forward Brian Laing forced a steal that led to a tap in on the other end that sliced the deficit to 68-67.
Following a free throw (one of two) by Lanier on the other end, Laing knotted the game at 69 when he leaked out and scored off an in-bounds feed with 37.1 seconds remaining. Moments later, Laing forced a steal that led directly to the final possession of the game and McCroskey's bucket.
With 5.6 seconds left, the Ravens inbounded the ball and got it to McCroskey, who was draped by a pair of Lanier defenders. McCroskey had to put the ball on the floor a few times to free himself up for an open look. That's why his shot came so close (or perhaps even a smidge after) the final buzzer.
Laing, who made several key plays down the stretch, finished with 19 points.
Ellis, one of the top sophomores in the country, didn't shoot the ball great from the perimeter but still managed to lead all scorers with 25 points. Junior forward Charlie Thomas, also a prospect to keep an eye on, added 16 in the loss. Thomas is a 6-7 power forward/center.