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Jefferson pulls it out against Boys, goes to boro finals

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Devante Cutler saw an opening, made a move and got into the lane. With Boys & Girls down two points and only eight seconds remaining on the clock, the senior guard went up, drew contact from Jefferson guard Keith Spellman and missed the shot. But Cutler got the rebound and went up again, drawing more contact and a blocked shot from Joel Wright.

Spellman ended up with the ball and Ruth Lovelace went off.

The Kangaroos coach came out onto the court to chastise the officials for not calling for a foul. As referee Chris Bailey was running back to the other side, he got tangled up with Lovelace, who never stopped shouting. Bailey hit the coach with a technical foul, her second of the game, and ejected her from the game.

Lovelace left the Jefferson gym as the fans rose to their feet, chanting, “You can’t ride the Wave, you can’t ride the Wave!”

“How do you not call it?” said Lovelace, who will have to sit out Boys’ first playoff game. “How do you not have the [guts] to call it?”

Jefferson made 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch – including a pair by Keith Spellman after Boys assistant coach Elmer Anderson was hit with a technical – and went on to win, 70-62, on Thursday in the semifinals of the Brooklyn borough playoffs in East New York.

The Orange Wave will take on Lincoln, which beat Transit Tech, on Sunday at 7 p.m. in the final at Long Island University.

While the non-call was certainly pivotal, it wasn’t the reason Boys & Girls (17-8) lost the game. Jefferson junior guard Marcus Romain hit a 3-pointer from so far in the corner he ended up falling into the bleachers to give the Orange Wave a 64-62 lead with 55 seconds left.

“That’s the range, that’s the range,” joked Romain, whose brother, Brandon, played for the Kangaroos.

Boys had just gone ahead, 62-61, on three free throws by sophomore Mike Taylor, who was fouled on a long 3-point attempt by Spellman. Romain, who has been working diligently on his shooting according to coach Lawrence Pollard, came up with the biggest play of the day and finished with 14 points.

“I knew he had it in him,” Jefferson forward Joel (Air Jamaica) Wright said.

Wright, who recently committed to Fordham, also had a key basket, a putback that gave Jefferson back a lead, 61-59, with 2:03 left. Taylor had previously tied the game up with a driving layup. Jefferson (17-8) led most of the game, including by nine points with 7:36 left. But Boys came all the way back and Pollard feared this game would turn out like some others the past few weeks, a stretch Wright called “rugged.”

“The last few weeks we haven’t been finishing games,” said Pollard, whose team will play against Hopkins (Minn.) in the Nike Super Six on Friday night at Fordham. “Guys have been looking at the clock.”

Spellman led Jefferson with 21 points, Wright had 15 points and Grace added 14. Lamount Samuell Jr. had 16 points, Leroy Isler had 13 points and Tyler Young had 10, all of which came in the second half.

It marked the third time in four games this season that Jefferson has beaten Boys & Girls. In the teams’ last league meeting, on Jan. 15, Lovelace also took umbrage with calls by the referees. Pollard nor Wright thought Cutler was fouled on the play.

“You gotta make that call,” Lovelace said. … “It ain’t fair to the kids.”

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