When the play call came in from the sideline with less than 10 seconds left in a tie game, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes forward Cameron Gregory wasn’t completely confident a back-door pick would get the job done. The Saints had practiced the offensive set for weeks, and Gregory knew his team had been struggling to execute it.
But all the Bishop O’Connell transfer wanted was a chance to win Tuesday night’s Interstate Athletic Conference game against Episcopal for his new team, and the call turned out to be a beauty. Gregory cut to the basket and scored the game-winning layup with six seconds left, and the Saints escaped with a 54-52 win over the Maroon in Alexandria.
“It’s just a new team, new system. First year we’ve really been together,” said Gregory, who scored 20 points. “The chemistry is really starting to be there.”
After starting 10-1, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (11-4, 2-2) entered Tuesday on a three-game skid, all coming in a span of four days last week. And it appeared destined to continue early on, as the Saints looked exhausted and had to piece together an 11-0 run at the end of the second quarter to pull within 32-30 of the Maroon at halftime.
But Gregory, a 6-foot-8 junior, was powerful inside and out in the second half, using a strong mid-range game to score 11 in the final two quarters — and he was complemented by fellow sophomore transfer Travis Light, who hit four three-pointers and scored 14 points.
“Cam definitely makes a big impact,” said Light, who played at Gonzaga as a freshman. “He’s one of the reasons why I get so many shots, because he’s taking up so much space with the defense.”
Gregory had to be patient in the final moments against Episcopal (6-6, 1-2). He had an opportunity to slam home an alley-oop with about three minutes remaining that would’ve extended the Saints’ lead to five — but he mis-timed his effort. Then he watched Episcopal guard Greg Malinowski (17 points) tie the game at 52 with about 20 seconds remaining.
The Saints pushed the ball up in a frantic sequence, and swung it around to forward Jordan Hunter to deliver the pass to Gregory through the back-door. After Gregory’s go-ahead bucket, Maroon guard Doug Chappell (16 points) had one final drive but failed to get a shot off.
“I really feel the school as a whole has been accepting, and so have my teammates,” Gregory said. “They haven’t really treated me like a transfer. They’ve treated me like I have been here the whole time.”