Christ the King 50, Gonzaga 48
With 21.6 seconds to play and his team tied with Gonzaga in last night's championship game of the Gonzaga D.C. Classic, Christ the King (N.Y.) Coach Bob Oliva told his team to put the ball in the hands of senior Japhet McNeil.
After a timeout, the flash-bulb quick point guard squeezed about 15 seconds off the clock with a dazzling display of dribbling, drove to the hoop and drew a foul. With 1.8 seconds remaining, McNeil made two free throws to give the Royals a 50-48 victory over the fourth-ranked Eagles at Bender Arena.
"I couldn't think of a better man to have the ball in his hands," Oliva said. "If you run sets at the end of a game like we did 10, 15, 20 years ago, it seems to backfire. We just wanted to get the ball to [McNeil] and let him make a decision. And he made a great decision."
McNeil, who scored 13 points, handed out 5 assists and had 3 steals, was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Christ the King (4-0) won the Gonzaga D.C. Classic for the second time in the tournament's 14-year history. The Royals won the 1991 tournament with a victory over the Eagles in the final. Gonzaga (6-1) is 5-3 in championship games of the tournament.
The Royals had a 48-42 lead with 3 minutes 9 seconds to play, but the Eagles tied the score with six straight points from junior forward Antwan Harrison (10 points, five rebounds). Harrison made a pull-up at the foul line, made two free throws and then muscled into the lane and scored between two defenders to tie the score with 1:28 remaining.
"It's nice to see him really wanting the ball down low," Gonzaga Coach Dick Myers said.
Christ the King then spread the floor to run down the clock. The Royals called timeout twice before letting McNeil create the winning play.
Gonzaga, which did not make a field goal in the opening 6:35 of the game, trailed 11-2 and fell behind by 10 in the second quarter. But the Eagles pulled to within three at the half with a 10-3 run sparked by junior Stanley Hodge (10 points, five rebounds) and senior Luke Owings (11 points, eight rebounds).
Christ the King kept Gonzaga at arm's length in the second half thanks in large part to its work on the glass. Five of the Royals' eight third-quarter baskets were put-backs, including four by senior forward Brian Williams (13 points, 10 rebounds).
In the third-place game, Georgetown Prep sank 8 of 10 free throw attempts in overtime to edge Paul VI Catholic, 55-52. Junior guard Tommy Moss led the Little Hoyas (3-1) with 15 points, all of which came in the second half and overtime. Senior Steven Proctor led Paul VI (3-3) with 16 points.