Lions comeback roar silenced by Hayes

Lions comeback roar silenced by Hayes
Caleb Caldwell

The comeback came up short.

Bishop Loughlin’s boys basketball team staged a ferocious rally on Dec. 9, but the Lions couldn’t overcome a double-digit deficit, falling 87–84 to Cardinal Hayes. The Cardinals scored the game-winning three-pointer with just eight seconds left on the clock, and Loughlin’s coach blames his squad for even letting the game get that close.

“It was tough. I mean, it’s hard to spot somebody 20 points and expect to come back,” said Loughlin coach Edwin Gonzalez. “We didn’t come out the way we normally would have and we paid for it.”

Loughlin (2–1) struggled from the get-go as the ball refused to bounce the Lions’ way. Hayes, meanwhile, hit its offensive stride from the opening whistle, using a 12-point run in the first quarter to create some early-game separation.

Keith Williams and Markquis Nowell — Loughlin’s dynamic scoring duo — were both held in check in the opening 16 minutes as Hayes’ (4–0) defensive efforts kept the Lions on their toes. Loughlin ended the half down 43–23.

“We tried to mess them up with some zones,” Hayes coach Joe Lods said. “I just wanted to slow Markquis and Keith a little bit on their free a bit. That was the plan.”

The Lions did their best to claw back in the third quarter, making it a 13-point game with just over two minutes left in the period, but Hayes had an answer for each Loughlin bucket.

That changed in the fourth quarter.

Loughlin opened up the fourth with 16 points to Hayes’ 2, sparked by Williams’ aggressive play underneath he hoop. The Cincinnati commit finished with 21 points after being shut out in the first half.

“We tried to do some different things, and he wanted to stay in there to help out the team,” Gonzalez said of the senior. “He’s a warrior, and he wanted to fight through it.”

Hayes struggled to match Loughlin’s fourth-quarter push as four of the Cardinals’ five starters fouled out of the game. The Lions took advantage, taking their first lead since early in the first quarter on an Adrien Nunez jumper with just under a minute left on the clock.

The squads exchanged buckets and free throws on the next two possessions, but two Loughlin turnovers hurt the Lions and Jontai Williams’ three-pointer with eight seconds to play made it a three-point game.

“My teammates just grabbed the ball, and it was a great steal,” Williams said. “They looked up to me, and I knocked down the shot.”

Loughlin had one more chance to tie the game up, but Williams went 2-for-3 at the line, and Hayes padded its cushion with a pair of free throws just before the final buzzer.

It was a disappointing loss for Loughlin, particularly after coming so close to such an impressive comeback, but the Lions refused to let the final score change the way they looked at the game. It’s still early in the season, and this game proved the Lions have some fight in the, Gonzalez said.

“They showed grit and grind, and I’m very proud of them. The season’s early, and I’d rather have that loss now than later on,” he said. “It’s a veteran team, and they came back. We’ll put it together, I believe that.”