BY: Matthew Valle ‘21
Bronx- On a cold, Sunday afternoon, I witnessed a strong, gritty Cardinals’ team play a well-rounded game.
Cardinal Hayes (20-5) entered the CHSAA “AA” Archdiocesan playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind Iowa commit Joe Toussaint ‘19 (who was named ‘AA’ All-League Team MVP) and ‘AA’ 1st Team All-League player Jaylen Murray ‘21.
With the NBA All-Star Game on the same day one would think a Sunday afternoon high school game must have been boring?
You are extremely incorrect.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth effort. Both teams exchanged buckets and not really pulling away from each other.
The first quarter was full of mistakes and just sloppy play. Defensive miscues and questionable foul calls were all included.
Honestly, I thought at one point this was going to be a total snoozefest but I was totally mistaken.
The first quarter ended with Hayes ahead 19-16
Coach Lods must have had said something because the energy of this Cardinals’ team totally changed. The team played with a lot more energy with translated to quick and easy buckets in transition.
The adjustment Coach Lods made to put the team into a zone defense forced the three-point friendly St. Peters to adjust their overall game.
Hayes would end the half with a 39-32 lead.
The turning point in this game definitely occurred in the third quarter.
The Cardinals couldn’t miss a shot if they wanted to. Bucket after bucket, Hayes started to pull away. The defense stepped up and finally pulled my enthusiasm into this playoff game. There was finally excitement and if you were a fan, you couldn’t have been any happier.
Hayes would enter the fourth with a strong 59-44 lead.
St. Peters would try to make a run but were met by Adam Cisse ‘19 at the rim. There was a huge moment in the game that occurred in the fourth quarter. Jalen Smith ‘20 would make a diving save into the scorer’s table to keep the ball alive. The scoreboard was shut off as a result.
Along with Jaylen Murray’s extraordinary 30-point performance, this moment motivated the team to seal the deal and pull out a playoff win. Hayes would win 68-59 to advance to the Archdiocesan “AA” semi-finals.