Instinct took over for Stephen Arowosegbe as he saw Chris Atkinson’s second free throw attempt carom of the right side of the rim and back in the Long Island Lutheran guard’s hands.
The Cardinal Hayes reserve forward slid to his left to challenge Atkinson’s layup with two seconds left to play and the Cardinals up two.
“I saw the defender come over and my natural instinct was to come over and help,” Arowbosegbe said. “Just went up and blocked it and made the play.”
His outstretched arm smothered Atkinson’s shot to seal Cardinals Hayes’ impressive 54-52 win in the consolation game of the SNY Invitational boys’ basketball tournament at CCNY Saturday afternoon.
“It was just a feeling of joy to know that the buzzer just went off and we won,” said Arowosegbe, who also grabbed eight rebounds.
The win was an important won on a number of levels of Hayes, who was in danger of losing four or its last five. The Cardinals, who are still playing without Manhattan-bound center A.K Ojo (knee), bounced right back after losing to Wings 62-54 in the opening round on Friday.
“Nice to bounce back. A lot of guys contributed today,” Hayes coach Joe Lods said “I thought Steven played great. He rebounded the ball and if you can do that against those guys you can do that against anybody.”
Taking down LuHi, which was nationally ranked earlier this season, without one of its best players shows Hayes what it is capable of even without its best interior player. Others have steppe up in his absence. Jeff Hayden paced the Cardinals with 21 points and five rebounds and Allen had 16 points and four rebounds. Former Boys & Girls standout Marvin Prochet led LuHi with 11 points.
“It gives us a boost of confidence because we thought LuHi was going to be the toughest team here,” Hayden said. “I feel like since we pulled this one out we can beat anybody.”
Hayes jumped out in front 33-26 thanks to a quick 7-0 run in the third quarter capped by a Hayden layup with 3:32 remaining in the frame. LuHu responded with a 10-2 spurt early in the fourth to take 42-39 lead with 3:48 left in the game. It was all Hayes and Allen from there.
Allen connected on a contested three and Hayden a pull up jumper to put Hayes up two. LuHi shortly tied the score before Allen gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 48-44 thanks to a four-play with 1:57 to go in the contest. Allen told Lods to run the play for him and it paid off.
“It felt good to hit a jump shot,” Allen joked. “I hadn’t hit one all week.”
Long Island Lutheran got within 53-51 on an Atkinson three with seven seconds left. Hayden made 1 of 2 free throw and Arowosegbe ensure the advantage held up.
“I saw somebody didn’t box out and then when I saw Chris go out and I thought he was going to get fouled. Then Stephen just blocked it.”