Christ the King handed Cardinal Hayes its first loss of the season, but it took three overtimes, 97 points and five Hayes players fouling out to accomplish the feat, as the Royals prevailed 97-94 in a thrilling endurance battle between two CHSAA AA heavyweights in Middle Village, Queens on Sunday.
It was a sloppy game at times, loaded with whistles that resulted in a total of 58 fouls called, yielding 68 free throw attempts. Neither team took advantage from the line, with CTK going 22-38 and Hayes making just 18 of 30. Seven players fouled out, five from the Cardinal Hayes side of the ledger, including backcourt standouts Joe Toussaint and Jaylen Murray and frontcourt bigs Adam Cisse and Shemani Fuller.
Christ the King outlasts Cardinal Hayes 97-94 in a triple OT thriller in Queens. Nicholas Molina scored 24 points for CTK, including 8 in the 3rd OT. Seven players fouled out, including five from Hayes. Just another night in the @CHSAA_NYC pic.twitter.com/Fw0vCuoafH— HS Box Scores NYC (@hsboxscoresnyc) December 23, 2018
The Royals got solid offensive production from reserve Nicholas Molina, who connected on six 3-pointers and scored 8 of his game-high 24 points in the third overtime. Christ the King built a 14 point lead at 63-49 early in the fourth quarter, but Hayes rallied after Murray connected on a teardrop in the lane and Coach Joe Lods called for a timeout to regroup. The Cardinals went on a 15-3 offensive tear after the TO, starting with 4-point play by Julien Soumaoro and ending with a buzzer-beating running banker by Toussaint that knotted the score at 66, forcing OT.
A 3-pointer by Molina put CTK ahead 71-67, but Toussaint answered with a floater across the lane, and Hayes tied it at 71 on Cisse's power move along the baseline with 2:17 left in the extra session. A pair of freebies by Quaran McPherson put the Royals ahead 74-72, but Jalen Smith's runner tied it at 74. After a series of empty trips on both ends, the game was headed for double OT.
It looked as if Hayes might finally seal it after 3-pointers by Fuller and Murray put the Cardinals ahead 80-74 with just under 2:00 left in the second overtime, but CTK rattled off six unanswered, including a contested 3-pointer by Malik Lacewell, making it 80-80 and forcing a third overtime.
There were four lead changes in the final session before Molina's corner 3-ball put the Royals in front 95-91 with 1:00 left. A free throw by Sterling Jones made it 96-91, but Thomas Hoffman, a reserve inserted after the foul-outs forced Hayes to go deep into its bench, nailed a corner 3-pointer to make it 96-94 with just 9.5 ticks left. The Cardinals were forced to put CTK on the stripe, and Molina made 1 of 2, giving Hayes a shot to force yet another overtime on a 3-pointer. Soumaoro got off a decent looking heave from close to half court after a crafty euro step, but the shot went wide right.
Hayes entered the game as the top-ranked team in New York State and New York City, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association, with Christ the King ranked 6th and 4th, respectively. Both teams played home games on Friday, with Hayes topping Archbishop Molloy 74-64 and CTK falling to Xaverian 70-68.
Video Highlights (added on 12.26.18)