Malik Gill helped lead Mount St. Michael to the CHSAA Class A intersectional title last March, but the senior point guard had no trouble figuring out where to place Tuesday’s scintillating 66-62 overtime win against St. Raymond.
“This is one of the biggest wins I ever had in my life,” Gill said. “It was a great team victory, a great school victory for Mount St. Michael.”
And it was a victory that placed the Mountaineers stamp in the revamped CHSAA ‘AA.’
“It takes us to a whole different level,” junior guard Andrew Utate said. “Other teams have a better view of us now. We just have to keep playing with this intensity and this momentum throughout the season and we’ll be good.”
In what could be a candidate for Game of the Year in New York City, Mount St. Michael earned what coach Tom Fraher called one of the greatest regular season victories in his 19 years at the helm.
“For us to come back in overtime, especially going down three, I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” Fraher said. “That’s a terrific win for Mount St. Michael.”
Gill, the strong and quick senior guard, essentially willed Mount St. Michael (11-2), ranked No. 9 in New York City by MSG Varsity, making every big play, whether it was dribble penetration or a little floater in the lane, which he sank with seven seconds left in overtime to seal the victory.
“He’s the leader,” Utate said. “He’s been on varsity for three years. He knows what to do, where to find people. He’s a great point guard.”
Gill finished with a game-high 26 points, including a layup with 5.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give Mount a 56-54 lead.
“What can I say about Malik Gill?” Fraher said. “He basically put us on his back today.”
Gill wasn’t the only hero. Utate, the lone junior in Mount’s starting lineup, buried two massive corner 3-pointers. His first gave the Mountaineers a 54-51 lead with 45 seconds left in the fourth.
His second trifecta tied the score at 59 after Daniel Dingle opened the overtime with an old fashioned 3-point play.
“Those are two of biggest shots he’ll ever hit in his high school career,” Fraher said. “And that’s for next year, too. I hope he has a few more of them, but those were huge shots.”
No. 1 St. Raymond (9-5), came up with answers on the road. Larry Graves knocked down a tying 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and, after Gill’s go-ahead layup, Shane Rector forced overtime with a clutch jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining.
With the game tied at 62, Dingle had a chance to put the Ravens in front, but he tripped on a drive to the basket. Gill went down the court and hit a pretty floater in the lane with seven seconds left in overtime.
“I have no excuses,” Dingle said. “I messed up.”
Dingle had an opportunity force a second overtime when he was fouled by Omari Manhertz with 1.4 seconds left and the Ravens trailing by two. But the Temple-bound forward, who had 25 points, front rimmed the first free throw and, while attempting to purposely miss the second, threw up an air ball.
Gill clinched the remarkable win with two more free throws with 0.2 seconds left.
“I’m usually in those situations and I usually come through,” Dingle said. “Today just didn’t drop. I just have to finish. They put the ball in my hands and they expect me to deliver and this game I didn’t deliver.”
Gill, though, most certainly did deliver a win that will resonate on Murdoch Ave. for a long time.
“It defines us as a team,” Gill said, “It defines how courageous and fearless we are as a team.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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