Tyreck Morris Jr. scored a game-high 24 points, leading Nazareth to a 63-57 road win over Xavier in a battle of the top two teams in the CHSAA's A South Division in Manhattan on Wednesday. The relentless defense of the Kingsmen, currently ranked 6th in NYS and 2nd in NYC by the New York State Sportswriters Association, had them on the brink of pulling away on numerous occassions, but each time Xavier countered to stay within striking distance.
Joseph McGrane connected on five 3-pointers and Blair Thompson scored 21 points, going 9-for-10 on free throws, giving the Knights enough offense to withstand several Nazareth spurts.
Xavier took an early lead at 12-9 on a McGrane 3-pointer, but a fast break dunk by Morris off a steal and assist from Dontae Prescott gave Nazareth a 13-12 edge. Although Xavier tied it at 15 on another 3-pointer by McGrane, Ziare Wells connected on a long 3-ball on the ensuing possession, giving Nazareth an 18-15 lead to close the opening quarter.
Nazareth's defensive pressure started to take its toll late in the second quarter, as another run-out dunk by Morris put the Kingsmen ahead 35-27 before Liam Hulbert's bucket in the paint made it 35-29 at the break.
Xavier called for time when Nazareth opened up a 39-29 lead with 7:12 left in the third, and the Knights responded with a 5-0 run, trimming the margin to 39-34 on a 3-point play by Thompson.
The Kingsmen ran the lead to 11 on yet another Morris dunk, and again Xavier called a time out to regroup, this time trailing 46-35 with 3:24 remaining in the quarter.
Xavier narrowed the margin to 50-43 on a layup by Owen Jacobson off a pocket pass from Hulbert, but Nazareth went back up 11 at 54-43 off a steal and one-handed slam by Morris. McGrane continued to keep Xavier in it, connecting on another 3-ball to make it 54-46 heading into the fourth.
Xavier held Nazareth to just two field goals and 9 points in the final frame, pulling within two points after Brandon Edmund's free throws made it 54-52 with 4:32 left. Morris was held scoreless in the final eight, but Jaqai Murray scored 6 of his 8 points in the fourth, helping the Kingsmen close out the 63-57 road win.
Nazareth is now 10-1 in @CHSAA_NYC league play and 14-5 overall. Xavier is 7-4 and 15-5. Nazareth's relentless defense and Xavier's sharp passing and back cuts made for a fun game to watch. Stay tuned for the highlights.— HS Box Scores NYC (@hsboxscoresnyc) January 31, 2019
Link to the box score:https://t.co/Yz7v0ARRRP pic.twitter.com/pvyMDKJvmc
Nazareth is now 10-1 in CHSAA league play and 14-5 overall, tops in the A South Division. The Kingsmen visit McClancy on Friday.
Xavier is 7-4 and 15-5, second to Nazareth in the CHSAA A South. The game against Nazareth was the fourth in six days for Xavier. The Knights will host Cardinal Spellman on Friday.