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ALBANY – Nazareth’s Samson Usilo couldn’t believe what he saw. It just wasn’t possible.
Albany Academy’s Jack Morrow hit a buzzer-beating 3-poiner to send the Nazareth boy’s basketball team home in heartbreaking fashion, 43–40, in the state Federation Class AA semifinal at the Times Union Center in Albany on Friday night. The shot came off an inbounds play that started with 1.7 seconds on the clock. Morrow caught it along the sideline in front of his team’s bench, dribbled, pump faked and had it leave his hands with less than half a second left on the clock. Usilo was left shaking his head and feeling Morrow didn’t have enough time to get off the game-winner.
“It’s so obvious, everyone saw it,” the junior wing said of the improbable shot. “There is no way you can pick up the ball, shot fake, take a dribble, with one second left. I don’t know what happened.”
Even Morrow doubted he would sink it. “It did feel good out of my hand,” he said, “I never thought it was going to go in.”
Usilo, who scored 21 points for the Kingsmen, knew his team set itself up for the narrow loss. Nazareth missed free throws and turned it over on its final possession as point guard Naquan Chandler’s pass into the paint was intercepted, setting up Marrow’s basket.
Nazareth was just 5-of-11 from the charity stripe and fouled John Moutopoulos dribbling with 31.1 seconds left. He made two free throws to tie the score at 40–40. Kingsmen coach Todd Jamison believed his team’s execution was the issue, not the clock.
“We gave them a chance to win the game,” he said. “What are you going to do?”
His team didn’t find a second scorer after Usilo as Ahmad Alkulaidi had just nine points behind him. Moutopoulos had 11 points to pace Albany Academy (23–3), which beat Nazareth (24–5) during the regular season.
It was still quite a year for Nazareth, which won the school’s first-ever Catholic Class A city and state title a year after winning the same crown in the ‘B’ division. It became the first school in the history of the league to accomplish that feat. Most of the Kingsmen’s roster is made up of juniors and Jamison thinks they can be back to Albany again.
“I think we can get back here next year,” Jamison said. “It’s going to be tough because we have an X on our back.”email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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