Malik Martin made two free throws with 3.6 seconds left, giving Curtis a 53-52 win over PSAL powerhouse Abraham Lincoln in a nailbiting quarterfinal at Carnesecca Arena in Queens on Saturday.
The clutch freebies capped a masterful performance by Martin, who carried Curtis with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.
In addition to punching a ticket to the coveted PSAL semifinals, the win served as redemption for Curtis, having been eliminated by the Railsplitters in the PSAL semifinals a year ago on the same court.
Lincoln jumped out to a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, and even though Curtis narrowed the deficit to 23-19 at the half, the Railsplitters started to pull away again after a steal and layup by Curtis Gordon made it 45-38.
The Warriors countered with an 8-0 run, taking a 46-45 lead after a pair of free throws by Quincy Barnes, prompting a Lincoln timeout with 2:25 remaining.
Lincoln took the lead back at 47-46 on a putback by Deontay Sprattley, and another putback by Omar Rowe made it 49-46 before Curtis pulled within a point at 49-48 after two free throws by Darnell Askew at the 1:07 mark.
Lincoln was deliberate in its possessions in the final minutes, holding the ball on the perimeter and drawing the defense out before getting into its offensive sets. The Railsplitters went back ahead by three at 51-48 after John Wilson beat his man off the bounce with a driving layup, and Martin was sent to the stripe on the ensuing possession after being fouled. Martin missed both free throws, sandwiched around a Lincoln timeout, but he rebounded the second miss and his stickback made it a one point game again at 51-50, prompting another Lincoln timeout with 21.5 ticks left.
The last 21.5 seconds turned into a free throw shooting contest, with Wilson missing the front end after being tripped in the frontcourt and Barnes making one of two after being fouled on the rebound, knotting the score at 51-51.
In what turned into a FT shooting contest in the last 20 seconds, this free throw by Jasiah Lewis put Lincoln in front 52-51 with 10.5 seconds left before Martin was fouled on a drive with 3.6 ticks. Martin made both FTs to send Curtis into the #PSAL Semis. @curtishs_bball #HSBB pic.twitter.com/cqkMaFCP69— HS Box Scores NYC (@hsboxscoresnyc) March 3, 2018
Jasiah Lewis made one of two after being fouled on a drive on the next possession, putting Lincoln ahead 52-51 lead with 10.5 seconds left. Curtis went right to Martin on the inbound, and, after fumbling the ball in the backcourt, Martin drove the length of the court and was fouled in the act with 3.6 seconds left. Martin would make both, and a desperation heave by Wilson missed at the buzzer, sending Curtis to the semis.
The Warriors will face top seed South Shore, which cruised to an 89-62 win over Robeson on Saturday, in the semifinals next Sunday at Carnesecca Arena.
Curtis Gordon scored 20 points and had 6 rebounds for Lincoln, which again played without KC Ndefo, Terrence Roberts and Phillip Harris as a result of an eligibility investigation.
A lighting malfunction during halftime delayed the start of the second half, with both teams being sent to their benches and then back onto the court to warm up before play resumed.
Interestingly, the only 3-point line on the court was from the NCAA 20' 9" distance, with no line marking the 19' 9" high school arc.