Ethan Hamlet isn’t fond of having his shot swatted.
“Getting blocked [stinks],” Hamlet said. “It’s not something I’m really accustomed to, but being the shooter, I guess I have to get used to that.”
That’s what happened to the All Hallows junior guard as the shot clock wound down with the Gaels clinging to a two-point lead late in the fourth quarter Thursday night.
Hamlet, though, got the last laugh on his next trip down the floor, faking a shot and then driving into the lane for a 3-point play, helping lead All Hallows to a 52-49 win against Xaverian in a CHSAA Class AA intersectional second round game at St. Francis Prep.
“That was a very big move,” Gaels coach John Carey said.
It was also a big win for All Hallows (10-14), which advances to the quarterfinals Sunday to take on division rival St. Raymond at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym. The Ravens won the first three games, but the Gaels are more confident this time around.
“I think this is actually the first playoff game I’ve won being part of this program,” Hamlet said. “I’m very excited about moving onto the next round and getting a shot at beating a team that has beat us three times this season.”
Hamlet is a big reason why the Gaels advanced. He had 15 points, none bigger than the old-fashioned 3-point play with 2:48 left in the fourth after George Lambert tied the score at 44 with a runner in the lane.
“My coach gives me some leeway to put the ball on the floor at times,” Hamlet said. “I saw an opening and I put a floater up, he slid under me and got the block. The ball dropped so I had to step up to the line and convert.”
He wasn’t the only one converting for All Hallows, which controlled the tempo and played with discipline and poise. Senior Davon Robinson, who was mired in foul trouble and was sidelined for about 10 minutes, scored a game-high 17 points. He sliced through the paint for a huge layup that extended the Gaels lead to 49-46 with 1:24 left.
And, after SMU-bound Brian Bernardi (15 points) buried a tying 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining, followed Marcus George’s two free throws with a pair from the foul line with 7.4 seconds remaining.
“I just wanted to go up to the free throw line and be confident,” Robinson said. “I was just trying to make sure I helped my teammates to get to the next round. We worked hard to get this far and I didn’t want to let them down.”
Xaverian (17-10), ranked No. 12 in New York City by MSG Varsity, had final chance to force overtime, but a 3-point attempt by Dillon Burns (10 points) fell short with 1.7 seconds left.
“These are tough, tough kids I have and they didn’t lose for a lack of trying,” Clippers coach Jack Alesi said. “They tried as hard as they could, right to the end they refused to take back shots. But basketball comes down to making plays. They made them and we didn’t.”
All Hallows also did a better job closing out the game than they did during the regular season, when the Gaels dropped close league games against Mount St. Michael and Holy Cross.
“I think today we got back to being a team and sharing the ball, getting everyone involved,” Hamlet said. “I think that really propelled us over the top today and enabled us to get the win.”
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