Moore Catholic guard Mark Fiorello just couldn’t believe his shots wouldn’t go into the basket on Saturday afternoon. The Mavericks were also struggling during regulation against a Bishop Ford team looking for the upset.
But Fiorello never shied away from making the crucial shots in overtime. The senior scored six of his 11 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining, as the Mavericks defeated Bishop Ford 55-52 in a CHSAA Class A quarterfinal at Mount St. Michael.
While Fiorello struggled early, he remained confident that he his shots would fall in. The 5-foot-5 guard jumped high the air and pumped his fist after making a key 3-pointer to put Moore up for good at 50-49 in the overtime session. He also connected on a basket, and made three free throws to finish off the game.
“I just needed to see one go in, it was one of those nights I couldn’t catch a break,” Fiorello said. “I was like thank God. If that didn’t go in, I would never had heard the end of it.”
Scott Schaefer scored a game-high 18 points and John Baggs added 10 as Moore Catholic (20-5) advances to the semifinals on Tuesday night to face Iona Prep. The Gaels defeated LaSalle in another quarterfinal Saturday.
The Falcons continually found success by driving to the basket and took a 10-point lead at halftime over a struggling Moore Catholic offense. With the Mavericks down 40-30 to start the fourth quarter, the team remained upbeat despite being minutes away from possible elimination.
Part of the game plan, according to Moore Catholic coach Tony Rafaniello, was to allow his players to keep shooting even though they were struggling. That patience paid off for sophomore guard Jordan Sanders, who connected on three vital 3-pointers in the second half.
“We got two kids like Fiorello and Sanders, and if they’re open 9 feet behind the line or two feet behind the line, I encourage them to shoot. They get confused by distance. They think in yards, not by feet,” Rafaniello said jokingly.
Rafainello, the longtime coach who will seek his 500th career win on Tuesday, was encouraged with the increased intensity on defense and the job Baggs did inside against All-Class-A selection Josh Blagrove, who was limited to only 15 points.
Bishop Ford (9-15) missed two glorious chances late to snatch the win as Blagrove and Anthony Butler missing open layups in the final minute. Blagrove hit one of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left in regulation, but couldn’t muster enough points in overtime. Marc Jones and Daquian Youngblood each had 16 points to lead the Falcons.
“When it came down to the end, we were just not being able to execute,” Bishop Ford coach Denis Nolan said.
The Mavericks expect another intense matchup against Iona Prep. Their regular season game in early January ended with Ray Savage pulling off a late steal and scoring a game-winning layup at the buzzer in overtime to give Moore Catholic a thrilling 66-64 victory.
“It was an exciting game. The only thing there were more lead changes than technical fouls, but not on me,” Rafaniello said. “When it’s one and done, anything can happen.”