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Hayes comes back to edge St. Peter's on Toussaint free throws

After being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1.1 ticks remaining, Joe Toussaint drained three free throws to give Cardinal Hayes a 52-51 win over St. Peter's in the CHSAA NY Archdiocesan Semifinals in the Bronx on Tuesday night.

Behind Chris Ledlum, St. Peter's was in command for most of the first three quarters, slowing the tempo and denying Hayes second shots by controlling the glass.

With the score knotted at 18, the Eagles rattled off 14 straight, with Ledlum and Jordan Fox scoring six each, giving St. Peter's a 32-18 cushion and putting Hayes on the ropes at a crucial stage of the game.

A 3-pointer by Toussaint was the start of a 10-0 run by Hayes, as the Cardinals' relentless defensive pressure started to take its toll on the Eagles, shifting the momentum heading into the fourth.

Toussaint continued to take over early in the final frame, scoring on a eurostep that brought Hayes within three at 35-32, and connecting on a 3-pointer that made it a two point game at 37-35.

The Eagles fought back, regaining some breathing room after two free throws by Chris Clancy, a dunk by Ledlum and a baseline jumper by Kaleb Hicks gave them a six point lead at 43-37.

A 3-pointer by Tyrese Williams trimmed the margin to three at 47-44, but Ledlum put St. Peter's back ahead by five at 49-44 when he intercepted a perimeter pass and took it all the way to the rim.

Hayes cut it to two again when a Jontai Williams 3-pointer made it 49-47, and Terry Dawkins tied it at 49 after a St. Peter's turnover in the backcourt. 

After St. Peter's called for time, Toussaint was whistled for a blocking foul and Ledlum converted both ends of the one-and-one to put the Eagles ahead 51-49 with 5.5 seconds left.

Coming out of a timeout, Hayes had a play set for Toussaint to take the last shot, and Ledlum got him on the arm as he was launching a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left. Toussaint drained all three freebies, and Clancy missed a heave at the buzzer.

Hayes, currently ranked 2nd in New York State, will face Archbishop Stepinac in the CHSAA NY Archdiocesan Final on Saturday. St. Peter's, ranked 30th, will be idle until the CHSAA intersectional playoffs.  

Toussaint's performance was reminiscent of the one Keith Williams put up for Bishop Loughlin in last year's Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan semifinals. Williams was fouled by Jose Alvarado while taking a 3-pointer as time expired, and he sent the game into the first overtime by making all three free thows. Williams scored 37 and Loughlin ultimately advanced to the final in double overtime.

While a replay of the foul called on Ledlum revealed contact on Toussaint's arm in the act of shooting, the play brought to the forefront the thorny issue of awarding free throws in the closing seconds of tight games, a bone of contention since Rumeal Robinson gave Michigan the NCAA title over Seton Hall in 1989. 

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