Senior guard Avni Mustafaj banked in a 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer, as Fordham Prep advanced to the CHSAA A Division final in dramatic fashion, edging Nazareth 56-55 in the semifinal round at St. Raymond High School in the Bronx on Tuesday night.
After holding a 10 point lead in the first quarter, the Rams fell behind as many as 12 in the third quarter and faced an eight point deficit heading into the fourth before Alex Russo's free throw tied the score at 50 with 1:45 to play. Fordham Prep regained the lead at 53-52 on Kyle Filipowski's 3-pointer with less than 1:00 left, but Nazareth took it right back at 54-53 on Khalil Brantley's jumper on the next possession, prompting Kingsmen head coach Dwayne Morton to call a timeout with 33 seconds remaining. Nazareth got a defensive stop after the timeout, forcing Fordham Prep to foul. The Rams put Brantley on the line with 6.6 seconds left, and he made the first but missed the second, with Fordham Prep securing the rebound and calling a timeout with 5.3 seconds on the clock, trailing 55-53.
Mark Osime caught Mustafaj's inbound pass and fed it right back, as Mustafaj dribbled up the sideline and pulled up from well-beyond the 3-point line, banking in the game-winner just ahead of the buzzer.
Kyle Filipowski scored 15 points for Fordham Prep, while Mustafaj had 13 and Matt Filipowski 12 for the Rams. Jaqai Murray scored 15 points and Dontae Prescott had 13 for Nazareth.
Fordham Prep will face Monsignor Farrell in the CHSAA A Division championship game on Friday night at Fordham University. Farrell topped LaSalle Academy 49-45 in the first semifinal on Tuesday night. This is Fordham Prep's third consecutive trip to the championship game. The Rams fell to Nazareth 58-48 in last year's final and lost to Farrell in the 2017 final.
The Kingsmen were the top seed in the CHSAA A South Division and finished the season with an overall record of 19-7.
* This post has been updated to clarify that this is Fordham Prep's third consecutive trip to the CHSAA A title game. A prior version of this post stated that it was the second consecutive appearance.