Nyonty Wisseh took control when his team needed it most.
The Clippers senior guard put a lackluster first half behind him and carried this team to a 62–57 overtime win against Archdiocesan champion Cardinal Hayes in the Catholic Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinals at Fordham University on March 6.
“I said to myself, ‘This is my team. This is my game. I had to take over,’ ” Wisseh said.
He scored 16 of his game-high 20 points after the first half — and added nine rebounds to boot. Wisseh split a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 47–47 and send the game into overtime.
Xaverian, which went more than four minutes without a field goal, trailed 47–44 after a basket by Victor Montenegro (15 points, nine rebounds) with 1:21 to go in the fourth quarter.
Wisseh, who struggled at the free-throw line last year, worked on it tremendously over the summer and increased his average from around 40 percent to 80 percent, according to Clipper coach Jack Alesi. Cardinals guard Baron Goodridge missed a runner along the baseline, and Victor Montenegro didn’t have time for a put-back at the horn.
“I just had to make sure I swished it in the next time,” Wisseh said.
His heroics didn’t stop there, especially after Hayes star guard Clive Allen fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Zach Bruno (17 points, eight rebounds) got the overtime started with a three-point play. And one from Wisseh put Xaverian up 57–53 with 1:05 to go in the extra session. The Cardinals crept within three, but a Wisseh put-back put the game out of reach.
“He is one of my favorite teammates to ever play with,” Bruno said of Wisseh. “He made great plays down the stretch of the game and we got the win.”
Khalil Rhodes chipped in 14 points, and Brandon Leftwich added seven and 10 boards for Xaverian (16–11). Allen scored 12 points for Cardinals Hayes (19–8), and Pedro Marquez tallied 11. Cardinal Hayes trailed 23–18 at the half and 35–32 after three frames, but the team battled its way back.
Hayes retook the lead early in the fourth, but could not build off a three-point lead late in the fourth. Xaverian’s defense forced tough shots as the shot clock wound down on the next two possessions, opening the door for a comeback and a second-straight trip to the semifinals.
“We don’t have a lot of shooters, we don’t have big men, we don’t have bench, but we can defend,” Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said.
Wisseh took care of the scoring when it mattered most.
“There is nobody like Nyonty,” Alesi said. “I’ve coached a long time and he’s a different kid.”