PATERSON, NJ - Buzzer beating shots are a rarity in high school basketball but there were four of them by Paterson teams in contests played during the semi-finals of the Passaic County Tournament.
Two of the scores were turned in by Kennedy’s Deishon Harrison. A quartet of the senior’s game high 19 points were by last second, successful offerings at the conclusion of the first half and the third quarter.
In a post-game interview reflecting the unselfish play schematic of JFK Head Coach Tommie Patterson, the senior point guard seemed oblivious to his achievement. Harrison’s cool court leadership proved key to the Knight’s 63-52 victory over Passaic, but the floor general received a lot of help from his friends.
Patterson chose to employ three seniors at tip-off including senior Jalen Hargrove at center and Mark Heber and Harrison at the guard positions. Junior Kyle Readus and sophomore Jayquan Briggs rounded out the five starters.
The Indians opened scoring on a running banker by senior guard Kendell Malloy. After Briggs drew a charging foul and a defensive rebound by Hargrove, Passaic fumbled a fast break attempt. Hargrove followed with a hard-hat rebound in the lane and successful, short banker off the glass.
On the Knights’ next offensive possession, Harrison turned in a sensational charge through the lane, which featured behind the back ball movement, but his ensuing shot skirted off the rim. However, Hargrove was there to pick up the loose change and score. Passaic’s senior Edward Pierott answered with a 15-foot, successful jumper but Hargrove and Harrison came right back, with a 2-dribble and score and a spectacular one-handed shovel lay-up, respectively. Harrison then added a pair of points from the charity stripe resulting in a 9-3 Kennedy lead.
The Indians next offensive tally came on a brilliant, off balance 10-foot runner by senior Cam’ron Sylvester. Malloy followed by skying for a rebound and scoring in the paint. JFK sophomore Jesus Romero then snuck behind Passaic’s defense and turned in a perfect reverse layup.
Hargrove continued to dominate the boards at both ends of the floor setting up Harrison’s last second heroics who, as the initial frame concluded, cruised the length of the court to the left corner and tossed in a nothing but net swish.
Separated by a single point early in the second quarter, Hargrove and Passaic’s junior Angel Feliz jostled at the low post. Hargrove was whistled for throwing an elbow but the Knights regained possession via an Indians’ traveling violation. Following consecutive Kennedy shot misfires and defensive rebounds by the Indians’ junior pivot man, Travis Pittman Jr., the Knights’ sophomore Yasen Crawford knocked down a jumper from the right baseline.
However, Passaic was able to solve JFK’s full court pressure which culminated in a high-flying bank shot score by junior Antrell Moore.
With 5:21 left in the half and Kennedy nursing a 22-19 lead, Paterson senior Jahmahl Carnegie drew an offensive foul and the ball again went to Hargrove at the low post. This time, however, swarmed by a trio of defenders, Kennedy’s big man was unable to get a shot off.
Following a pair of fast break scores by Harrison and Heber, Readus followed up his own miss with a score and Hargrove added a pair of points from the charity stripe. After Malloy converted a 10-foot jumper in the paint for the Indians, Hargrove replied with a runner, also in the lane. A bucket by Passaic’s Sylvester concluded the first half scoring with Kennedy posting a narrow 31-28 lead.
Harrison inaugurated the third quarter action with a 20-footer from the left wing. Two tip-in scores by the Knights and a steal, behind the back dribble, and driving score by Readus extended Kennedy’s lead. However, a missed dunk by the Indians combined with ferocious defense by both squads resulted in a skirmish on Passaic’s end of the floor as the Knights were tagged with a technical foul for hanging on the rim after an attempted dunk.
The final minutes saw the Indians continue to have trouble getting the ball into, and scoring, in the lane. Heber added to Passaic’s woes with a three-point play while Hargrove added a textbook, baby hook in the lane for two more. After Heber calmly dropped in two free throws, the home team enjoyed their largest lead of the game, 43-33, with 2:08 left in the frame. Following a walking call on the Knights, Kennedy senior Bre’quan Moore delivered an NBA quality block resulting in Harrison and company off to the races once more. Harrison turned in his second buzzer beater with a running, hook lay-up from the right side.
The fourth quarter saw the Knights maintain their substantial lead and fend off their scrappy opponents. Early on, tension mounted with technical fouls being simultaneously assessed on both teams. After the dust had settled, a lengthy pow-wow was convened between referees and head coaches. Paterson’s Hargrove was ejected, much to the disagreement and dismay of Silk City fans.
As the game clock wound down, Sylvester swished a long trey from beyond the key, Pittman Jr. converted on a cherry-pick lay-up, and Malloy added another two-pointer for the Indians but the trio of scores proved too little, too late. Free throws by Heber and Harrison provided icing on the cake for the convincing victory, setting the stage for the county final.
The Knights will face off against cross town rival Eastside at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 29. The game will be played at Wayne Hills High School.
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