Nothing was working for the Westhill boys basketball team through much of Tuesday night's game against St. Peter's (Staten Island) in the opening round of the CBA Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic.
Then, all of a sudden, everything clicked, and a 17-point deficit vanished, leading the Warriors to a dramatic 44-42 victory over the Eagles.
Having already gone on a 22-5 run to pull even, Westhill capped the comeback in the most exciting way possible.
With the game tied 42-42, Westhill got the ball back with 8.0 seconds left when St. Peter's was whistled for a three-second violation as it tried to reclaim the lead.
Taking the inbounds pass, Dan Ross dribbled through center court, then went to the right side past four Eagles defenders. Then, just as he was seemingly headed out of bounds, Ross lofted a jump shot that banked off the glass and through the net with 1.8 seconds to play. Stunned, St. Peter's could not respond as the clock ran out.
So ended a night that seemed to head for trouble in the second quarter. Already behind 14-10, Westhill got just four points in that frame, watching as St. Peter's built its margin to 26-14.
And the start of the third quarter continued the trend toward the Eagles. By the time Westhill could regroup, it trailed, 37-20, its offense stalled in every direction.
What keyed the rally was the fact that the Warriors closed the third period on a 12-3 run. Ross (who had 17 points) and Mike McMullen (who got 11 points) hit key baskets and, on the other end, Tom Fisher dominated on the glass as he finished with 16 rebounds.Suddenly, it was St. Peter's that went cold in the face of Westhill's increased pressure, as it was unable to score any points in the game's final 5:26.
McMullen's 3-pointer with 2:51 to play cut the margin to 42-40, and Fisher's basket a minute later tied things up, setting up the exciting conclusion.
Westhill would face Albany CBA in the championship game, as it had avenged last year's Class AA regional finals loss by beating Syracuse CBA 61-50 in the other half of the opening round.