The scenario and its result were all too familiar to Mount St. Michael and not in a good way.
Mountaineers boys’ basketball coach Tom Fraher said his team has been in numerous close games down the stretch and has struggled to score enough to pull out the victory. He got an uneasy feeling going into the fourth quarter tied with Xaverian in Mount’s CHSAA Class AA intersectional outbracket playoff game.
“It always looks familiar because we are right there and we just run out of gas,” Fraher said. “We just didn’t score the ball. That’s the difference.”
The Mountaineers couldn’t overcome a big second half from Xaverian center Sayon Charles and fell 48-39 to the Clippers at Archbishop Molloy in Briarwood on Sunday afternoon. Charles scored 16 of his game-high 22 points after the break. His consecutive 3-point plays to start the fourth quarter put Xaverian (11-14) ahead for good.
“He’s a physical kid,” Fraher said. “He muscles his way to the rim a little bit.”
Mount senior Kelvin Riley did his best to will his team to a victory. He scored nine points and Nukoy Singleton added eight. Riley hit one of two free throws to pull his team within 40-37 with 4:30 left in the game. The Mountaineers didn’t score again until a Singleton layup with 50 seconds remaining. The lull is a familiar trend.
“We have seen it before,” Fraher said. “We go through portions of a game where we don’t score for three, four minutes.”
His team couldn’t sustain its strong first half play. It closed the first half on a 16-3 run thanks to the hot shooting from junior guard James Brady. He connected on two treys and then a jumper with 27 seconds left to put the Mountaineers (6-20) up 23-19 at the half.
“Coach told us in the beginning of the game we’d have to make shots,” Riley said.
Big ones just didn’t fall in the second half. Fraher is hopeful for next season. Riley is the only senior starter. Singleton, Larry Waldropt, Kasey Walker and forward David Collins all return and will be joined by an infusion of talent from the junior varsity. He stills sees the need for a lot of development.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Fraher said. “We have some good young players, we have some good freshmen who will be on the varsity next year. We really need to improve skill wise.”