Resilience powered Bishop Ford’s run to the championship game, but the Falcons couldn’t get back up from a blistering shooting performance from Xavier.
The second-seeded Knights hardly missed during a big third quarter, and it was enough to hand No. 4 Ford an 83–68 loss in the Catholic Class A boys’ basketball intersectional championship at Fordham University on Monday. Xavier shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half and connected on 9 of 18 three-pointers in the game. The Knights built a 59–40 lead heading into the fourth.
“They are a good shooting team,” junior guard Dior Dixon said. “Closing out on them, they are still hitting jump shots. We pressed after and they’re still hitting jump shots.”
The Falcons (14–13) had survived some tough odds all season, just not on this night. Ford (24–3) started the year 2–7, had to beat Farrell in its final league game to finish fourth and earn a home playoff game. It did so with its seniors on a ski trip and trailing by 14 points in the second quarter. The Falcons were also down 14 to St. Joseph by the Sea with 3:00 to go in the game and rallied for a first-round win.
Ford coach Denis Nolan said even his family was wondering how many points they were going to lose by when his team trailed top-seeded Nazareth 14–3 after the first quarter in the semifinals, but his players never quit.
“These kids were just the most resilient group of kids I’ve ever coached in 27 years,” Nolan said. “They just had a never-say-die attitude.”
Ford thought it had survived an early Xavier barrage when it trailed just 32–27 at the half. Nolan has told his team all year that the first four minutes of the third quarter are some of the most important in the game. Then Xavier went on a 12–3 run capped by a four-play play from Kevin Crockett to grab a 47–31 advantage with 4:20 to go in the frame. Crockett led Xavier with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists and Liam Monaghan scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
“Whatever we tried really didn’t work,” Nolan said. “They had an answer for everything tonight.”
Devin Dingle paced Ford with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Dixon had 18 points and seven boards. Jonathan Murry had 15 points, and Qumari McAlister added 10.
The junior-laden Falcons team is hoping to take the toughness and experience it gained this year to make next season an even better one. This run will still not be forgotten, by the tight-knit team.
“Those are going to be memories we talk about forever,” Dingle said. “We are going to try to thrive like that next year. Hopefully we won’t be in that predicament, but we played as a family.”
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