Friday night’s CYO Tournament semifinal matchup between Jesuit and Brother Martin packed all the drama and excitement you can handle into one quarter.
What looked to be a blowout through three quarters, turned into a last-second finish as Brother Martin held on to beat Jesuit 47-44 in boys basketball aciton.
The Blue Jays narrowed the gap to eight points with just more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The biggest play for the Blue Jays came with 58 seconds left as Rob Weiss drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled.
Weiss converted the field goal while absorbing the contact by Brother Martin’s Peyton Aucoin. He also converted the free throw for a three-point play.
Unfortunately for Jesuit, Weiss fouled out on the Blue Jay’s next defensive possession and Jesuit never got cloer.
Weiss finished with 12 points. Hunt Conroy led Jesuit with 15 points.
Jesuit coach Chris Jennings said his team had a chance to win, but played well under the circumstances.
“We had a chance to close it out at the end, but we were very sloppy with the ball,” Jennings said. “We had a play set up to try and tie the game, but it never got started. We started out slow and Brother Martin made us pay. The second half gave our kids a fresh start and it showed.”
Brother Martin held a 13-point lead going into halftime thanks to some fancy offensive moves from senior Venjie Wallis.
Wallis scored 10 points in the first half alone and was instrumental in the Crusaders’ 27-8 lead.
That lead soon dwindled as the Crusaders closed out the third quarter up by only 10 points.
Vejon Wallis, the younger brother of Venjie Wallis, led all scorers with 16 points. Vejon’s strong second-half performance mirrored the elder Wallis and secured the three-point victory at the free-throw line.
Bruce Jordan-Swilling added six points for Brother Martin.
Despite the thrilling victory, Crusaders coach Chris Biehl was far from thrilled at his team’s play.
“We really have some maturing to do if we want to be a top team in this league,” Biehl said. “We didn’t make the big plays when we needed to and we almost gave the game away. We practice free throws more than any team in the state. So saying I’m disappointed at our performance would be an understatement. We have to pick it up (Saturday) or we won’t come away with a victory.”
Brother Martin will face the winner of the St. Augustine-East St. John game on Saturday at Brother Martin.