PATERSON, NJ -- With the clock winding down in overtime and the score tied, Paterson Charter had the ball and was setting up to take the final potential game winning shot in its battle with Union Catholic in the championship game of the Paterson Charter Holiday Tournament on Monday night.
But Union Catholic's Matt Tracey had other ideas as the senior forward cut off a pass in the lane with about five seconds left in overtime and stole the ball. Tracey quickly threw an outlet pass to Elijah Barlow, who drew a defender to him as he dribbled down court before dishing it back to a trailing Tracey, who drove to the hoop for a layup as time expired to give the Vikings a heart-pounding 51-49 victory. Tracey's buzzer-beating basket provided the only points of overtime and secured a second straight title for Union Catholic in the prestigious tournament.
The Vikings, now 4-1 on the season, came back from a six-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime.
With 20 seconds left in overtime, previously unbeaten Paterson Charter, one of the top contenders to win the State Group 1 title this season, got possession of the ball and called timeout.
"In the huddle during the timeout I felt really good about us being on defense in that spot and told the guys we are going to come up with a steal,'' said UC Head Coach Dr. Jim Reagan Jr. "Matt made a great play and got down the court. Elijah got the ball back to him and Matt scored right before the buzzer went off.''
Coach Reagan said he's pleased with how his team, which trailed 32-27 at the half and 43-37 after thee quarters, hung in there and showed a lot of grit and resiliency."
"I'm really proud of the way the guys battled the whole game,' said Coach Reagan. We were behind the whole second half, but the guys didn't pack it in. We talked about how we have to find multiple ways to win games. We're not going to score in the 70's and 80's every game. We needed to show that we can win a possession by possession game and grind out a really tough game on the road. And that's what we were able to do tonight to defeat a very good and well coached team like Paterson Charter.''
Barlow, a junior guard, led UC with 13 points. Junior Bradley Young continued his strong play by connecting on two three-pointers and scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds. Tracey finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds and four steals, and junior Isaiah Hill scored nine points and had three steals. Isaac Holmes added five points and handed out a team-high four assists for the Vikings, and Austin Squeri scored four points for UC.