Juan Palacios delivered a key three-point play with 1:13 remaining in the game to help Our Savior New American survive Dunbar High School, 81-68, in a quarterfinal matchup at the second annual Rim Rocker event held at Longwood High School on Long Island.
Don't be deceived by the final score. This game wasn't decided until the final minute of play. And it didn't have to be that way for the Our Savior team, which build a 62-48 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
But an outstanding effort by Tre Kelley (right) ignited a furious rally by Dunbar, which climbed to within four points after trailing by as much as 20 points in the game. Kelley finished the game with 35 points. This included several sweet, acrobatic drives to the basket in the fourth quarter and four three-pointers sprinkled throughout the 32 minutes of play.
But Our Savior had built such a big advantage that Dunbar basically ran out of time. Palacios scored 31 points, Konimba Diarra (signed with South Florida) had 14 and Oumar Sylla (signed with Valpo) had 17. A big effort also from Walter Murray (15 points) gave Our Savior a seemingly comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.
For the first three quarters, it looked like a walk in the park for Our Savior New American. The frontline of Palacios, Diarra, and Sylla dominated both offensively and defensively. Our Savior led 24-19 after the first quarter and 43-28 at the half. Sylla, Palacios, and Diarra scored 33 of the 43 Our Savior first-half points.
But Dunbar High School has a rich tradition and also a terrific backcourt. The Dunbar backcourt forced numerous turnovers in the final eight minutes to climb back into the game. But each time they closed to within a few points, Palacios and Sylla answered with some key buckets.