Xaverian's balanced execution carried the Clippers past Christ the King 59-57 in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Semifinals in Middle Village on Thursday night. Isaiah Amazan scored 12 points, Michael Graham finished with 11, Nicholas Folk 10, William Reyes 9 and Shawn Fulcher 8, as Xaverian secured an impressive road win despite the return of Moussa Cisse, Christ the King's sophomore center who had been sidelined with an injury for the entire regular season.
Cisse got into foul trouble almost immediately, picking up two quick personals after entering the game midway through the first quarter, but he was still a force for the Royals on both ends. Cisse's two-handed dunk after rebounding his own miss brought the Royals within a point at 10-9, but Fulcher (4) and Reyes (3) combined for 7 of Xaverian's 12 points in the opening eight, giving the Clippers a 12-9 edge.
Christ the King took the lead early in the second, but Folk tied it at 18 on a fast-break layup after Cisse swatted away an Ian Byrne floater on the preceding possession. Cisse gave the Royals the lead again at 20-18 on an alley-oop dunk off a lob pass from Sterling Jones, but Amazan scored the next 4 for Xaverian, tying the game at 20 on a foul line pull up and giving the Clippers the lead at 22-20 on a baseline drive. Christ the King tied it at 22 on a jumper by Jones, and the Royals pulled even again at 24 after a putback by Nathaniel Curry just before the half.
With Cisse looming as a rim protector, Xaverian spread its offense to the perimeter in the second half. After making just one 3-pointer in the first half, the Clippers connected on six in the last sixteen minutes, two by Reyes, two by Amazan and one each by Folk and Fulcher. Christ the King called for time after a Reyes 3-pointer put Xaverian ahead 51-43 with 4:13 left, and Amazan's 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 54-45 lead before a Jones three and a steal and layup by Lovell Smith brought the Royals within four at 54-50 with 2:48 remaining.
Two free throws by Graham gave Xaverian a two possession lead at 56-50, and the Clippers stretched it to 58-50 when Cisse was called for goaltending after pinning Amazan's fast-break layup on the glass. Facing an eight point deficit with less than 2:00 left, Christ the King finally went to Cisse in the post, and he scored back-to-back buckets on jump hooks from close range, narrowing the margin to 58-54 with 1:36 left.
Xaverian left the door ajar by missing a couple of front ends from the stripe, but Graham did a solid job defending in the paint on the next couple of trips. The Clippers went ahead 59-54 after a Walter deFreitas free throw with 9.5 seconds left, and a Nicholas Molina 3-pointer rolled in at the buzzer to make it a 59-57 final.
Xaverian will face top-seeded Bishop Loughlin in the CHSAA Brooklyn-Queens Diocesan final on Friday night, again at Christ the King. The Lions defeated Holy Cross 65-47 in the second semifinal on Thursday.
Both teams shot poorly from the foul line, but the Clippers got there with more frequency. Christ the King went a woeful 2-7 from the stripe, while Xaverian went 10-20.
Cisse had a team-high 16 points in his return to the Christ the King lineup.