By Jerry Del Priore
Cardinal Hayes High School basketball team fell behind, 23-21, to Bishop Loughlin in the first quarter of its Friday afternoon CHSAA matchup in the Bronx.
So, Cardinals head coach Joseph Lods told his seniors (and the rest of the team) that they didn’t want to go out on a losing note on Senior Night, especially in front of their raucous fans in the last regular season home game of their high school careers.
Cardinal Hayes duly responded by dispatching the Lions, 76-68, behind 24 points from six-foot-three-inch senior guard Tyrese Williams, who is committed to Quinnipiac University.
“I just kept reminded them that is was senior night and they had too much success here to end their season on a loss,” Lods said. “I told them to settle down. The guys get affected by the crowd. We just had to settle in a little bit.”
They did settle in. The Cardinals tied the score at 23 all on a bucket by senior guard Jontai Williams and took the lead at 25-23 early in the second period.
Both squads went back and forth until junior guard Joe Toussaint sunk two free throws that gave the Cardinal Hayes a 31-30 advantage with 3:50 remaining in the second quarter.
From there, the Cardinals went on a 11-6 run to close out the first half in front by a score of 42-36.
Cardinal Hayes built a 13-point lead on a three-pointer from Toussaint, extending their margin to 56-43 with a little over four minutes to go in the third period.
The Cardinals kept their 13-point advantage (66-53) heading into the fourth quarter. Though the Lions played better, and fought hard, the Cardinals were able to stave them off, winning by eight points when the dust settled.
Not wanting to upset the Cardinal Hayes faithful on senior night, Tyrese Williams said that the entire team hit the hardwood with a relaxed mindset while doing its best to pick up the victory.
“I felt like we played solid. We played real loose, honestly,” said Williams, who hails from Beacon, New York. “For our senior night, we played loose. We just tried to go out there and try to have fun tonight, and just come away with a win any way we could.”
Cardinal Hayes’ next game is on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. against All Hallows High School at Gauchos Gym in the Bronx.