By Danny Torres ‘84
BRONX – The year was 2016 and it happened to be the last time Cardinal Hayes (22-5) captured the Archdiocesan championship. During the 2017-2018 season, the Cardinals would fall to Archbishop Stepinac 78-62 in the Diocesan finals.
Last year, they loss and surely the Cardinals weren’t leaving Mount Saint Michael as the Archdiocesan CHSAA “AA” runners-up - again.
For the throng of jubilant fans who came out to support the “School that Makes the Concourse Grand,” there was an infectious energy in the stands. You could feel it.
Led by Iowa Commit Joe Toussaint ‘19 who scored 25 points and eight rebounds, the Cardinals definitely had a game plan. With an impressive team-effort from Jaylen Murray ‘21 (18 points), Shemani Fuller ‘20 (16 points), Julien Soumaoro ‘20 (12 points), and 6’9” center Adam Cisse ’19 who dropped 10 points, Hayes, throughout the second half, continued to apply constant pressure to stop the Ravens from scoring.
And how can one describe the Cardinals 3-point onslaught? The Cardinals dropped a breathtaking 11 3-pointers in the championship game (including Julien Soumaoro who hit 4).
But, if there was a defining moment in the game that literally brought the entire gymnasium to their feet happened during the third quarter. It was the ultimate Hayes’ trifecta of Toussaint, Soumaoro and Fuller who scored in one of his signature 'alley oop’ plays to push the Cardinals ahead 57-41.
After the game, Hayes’ assistant coach Tim Phips said it best on what strategy they would implement throughout the entire game: mix-up defense, rebound, and play together.
As simple as it sounds, it definitely worked. The above stats don’t lie.