WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The New Rochelle Huguenots were seconds away from a second heartbreaking defeat in consecutive days.
Then Kirkland Ottey drained his only shot attempt of the game.
The senior guard buried a three pointer from the top of the arc with mere seconds left as New Rochelle pulled out a thrilling 56-55 win over the Kennedy Catholic Gaels in the consolation game of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center.
Though Ottey attempted only one shot, he had nothing but confidence as the ball left his hands.
“I was feeling it the whole game,” Ottey said. “The whole warm-ups and all that, I was making my shots, so I knew I was going to shoot the ball.”
Ottey said the play was actually designed in the previous timeout as a layup, but the team adjusted and he hit the three. Mike Ennis’ last-second jump shot clanged off the right side of the rim and the Huguenots prevailed.
Ottey said he took Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to Kingston particularly hard and knew he would have to put in the effort against Kennedy.
With Kennedy ahead, 55-53, referees called a five-second violation with 41.4 to go after the Gaels could not inbound the ball. New Rochelle burned 16 seconds and called timeout. The ball bounced out of bounds, but the Huguenots retained possession with four seconds left on the shot clock and 9.6 seconds remaining on the game clock.
After timeouts by each team, Malik Burts lobbed the inbound pass into Ottey’s hands at the top of the arc. From there, he promptly nailed the winning three-pointer.
The game became increasingly physical, particularly in the second half. New Rochelle committed 17 fouls, 12 in the second half, and Kennedy Catholic committed 16 fouls, 10 in the second half.
New Rochelle’s Joseph Clarke led all scorers with 15 points, while Burts and Terrence Holden added 13 apiece. Clarke also had 11 rebounds for his second double-double in two days.
Kennedy’s Thiago Randazzo led all players with 13 rebounds. Mike Demello led the Gaels with 14 points, while Ennis and Jordan Hardy had 13 and 12, respectively.
As for Ottey, his stat line looked ostensibly less impressive: 1-1 FG, 1-1 3PT, and one rebound in only five minutes on the court. But would he rather have better numbers or the game-winning shot?
“Game winner,” Ottey said. “All the time.”