After storming back multiple times in the second half, Boys & Girls got all it could ask for – a chance to tie with a good look at the end.
When Christ the King’s Dominykas Milka missed two free throws with 4.7 seconds left, the Kangaroos pushed the ball down the floor and found Anthony Hemingway in the left corner. His double clutch 3-pointer that would have tied the game looked pure out of his hand – and it looked pure into the basket.
But it rattled in and then rattled out, ending what was one of the most memorable seasons in the storied school’s history.
“It went in – that’s the whole point,” Kangaroos senior Leroy Isler said after the crushing, 52-49 loss to Christ the King in the state Federation final at Glens Falls Civic Center. “It just rolled out. Heartbreaker. What can you say?”
Mike Taylor did everything in his power to get Boys & Girls (28-6) back in the game. The Kangaroos were down 34-26 near the end of the third quarter and Taylor’s 3-pointer and floater cut the deficit to just one. CK (26-5) went up 41-33 with 5:42 left and Taylor hit back-to-back jumpers in the lane, then a 3 to get Boys within three. He had 12 of his 18 points in the fourth.
“We’ll never die,” said Isler, who had 16 points. “We fight until the end. The end just came too quick.”
The end arguably came when Taylor fouled out on a charge call with 1:53 left and the game even at 48. He used an Isler screen and leaned in against Milka, who fell down.
“I didn’t touch him at all,” Taylor said. “He flopped. I tripped on his foot, that’s why he went down.”
Without Taylor, Boys was in trouble. The Kangaroos failed to produce another field goal. Their lone point came from an Isler free throw that made it 50-49, in favor of CK, with 21.9 seconds left.
“That definitely hurt,” Boys & Girls coach Ruth Lovelace said. “He’s your leader offensively.”
Down 52-49 with 23 seconds left, point guard Antione Slaughter drove into the lane and missed a layup instead of kicking it back out for the potential game-tying 3-pointer. He blamed himself for the loss afterward.
“That’s not really what we were looking for,” Lovelace said.
The High still had a chance, but it wasn’t meant to be. Hemingway’s 3-pointer as time expired was as close to being down as it gets.
“I thought he got fouled,” Lovelace said. “I thought a lot of fouls were missed. But I don’t want to make fouls a big issue.”
After the game, the coach spoke quietly to her team in the locker room for about 20 minutes. The message was simple. Losing up here doesn’t take a single thing away from what Boys & Girls accomplished.
The Kangaroos won their first PSAL city title since 1979 and Lovelace became the first female coach in New York City history to guide a boys basketball team to a title. They’ve appeared on “Late Night” with Jimmy Fallon and at City Hall to be honored.
“I’m not going to take anything away from a great season,” she said. “They helped me make history. There are a lot of things to be proud about.”
Assistant coach OK: Boys & Girls assistant coach Jeff Wiggins collapsed moments before the opening tip-off, but after being taken to a local hospital, he was discharged and took the bus home with the Kangaroos.