PATERSON, NJ - For a few moments, it seemed the Kennedy Knights might get a chance at a reprieve in overtime. The Knights' first-round state playoff game was tied at 57-57 in regulation with no time left on the clock and a Wayne Valley players was at the foul line, taking two shots after being fouled at the buzzer.
He missed the first. But then he sank the second, ending Kennedy's season. The result also ended the stellar career of Kennedy's Sammy Sungletary, who recently joined the ranks of past stars who scored 1,000 points for the Knights. It was Singletary's two free throws with less than two minutes left that gave Kennedy a two-point lead near the end of a hard-fought contest.
But after a Wayne Valley mise Knights couldn't take advantage of an opportunity to grab a two possession lead. They committed a turnover that lead to a game-tying Wayne Valley basket.
Sign Up for E-News
Singletary finished with 16 points, but had to work hard for every one of them. Wayne Valley played a box-and-one defense on him as Andrew Keane applied constant pressure on Kennedy's star. For the Knights, three three-pointers by Hassan Townes were key to their 31-30 first half lead.
In other state playoff action, the Kennedy girls beat Bloomfield 69-48 and move on to play Kearny on Thursday. In the boys' brackets, Eastside coasted to an 81-39 win over Union City and will play Randolph on Thursday. The Eastside girls lost to Ridgewood, 49-43.
For the last five minutes of the Lady Ghosts' opening round of the North 1 Group 4 NJSIAA State Tournament girls basketball game, only one team stepped up - and it wasn't Eastside. The Lady Ghosts led Ridgewood High School for most of the game on Tuesday evening, but it was the Maroons who went on a 9-4 run in the final four minutes to move onto the second round of the tournament with a 49-43 win.
"We played hard but did some things at the end of the game that I wish we had changed in terms of shot selection," said Lady Ghosts Head Coach Ray Lyde after the game.
In the girls game, Eastside was in control for most of the first half, with the exception of two very brief moments where Ridgewood led by one. Freshman point guard Kayla Diaz (#00) scored back-to-back three pointers with under four minutes left in the second quarter and helped give the Lady Ghosts a 25-21 lead at halftime.
Ridgewood came out strong in the second half and scored six unanswered points to take the lead halfway through the third quarter. Eastside responded with a 7-point run of their own, retaking the lead 35-33 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Ghosts would go on to score four more points before Ridgewood went on another run that would sink Eastside's chances of playing the second round on March 3. Ridgewood senior standout Meghan Roxas led the team with 13 points, but it was Eastside's Diaz who led the game with 15. Other standouts included Ridgewood's Annie Reilly who scored 9 points and Eastside's freshman Taylor Brown with 13 points.
Still, coach Lyde said he was proud of the steps they had taken this season and thinks the future looks bright.
"We are young, we can only get better, It's a big turnaround from last year," he said. "I feel positive we are heading in the right direction, I feel positive and confident of the kids we have coming back and in our coaching staff who do a really great job," Lyde said.