Throughout the frantic final minutes of Monday’s Central Catholic League crossover tilt at St. Mary’s, Lowell Catholic’s Isaiah Taylor stayed composed.
With the score tied, 63-63, and 23 seconds left on the clock, the Crusaders star junior showcased his poise one more time, as he collected a loose ball, went airborne, and double-clutched to elude two defenders before putting in a buzzer-beating shot to lift Lowell Catholic to a 65-63 victory.
It’s the Crusaders first win over the two-time defending CCL champion and previously unbeaten Spartans (10-1).
“I thought this could be the night,” said Taylor, whose heroic basket gave him a game-high 24 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
“We’re just a mentally tough team, and we never started pointing fingers,” Taylor said. “Someone had to hit a big shot. I’ve never tried to shoot that [double-clutch move] before, it’s just instinct.”
Lowell Catholic (7-2) raced out to a 12-3 lead and trailed, 29-27, at the half. St. Mary’s started to pull away in the third quarter behind ferocious defense from Josh Perez (12 points, 6 assists, 6 steals) and dribble penetration from Sammy Batista (12 points, 5 assists), but Taylor kept the Crusaders calm.
With help from senior center Caleb Scott (12 points, 15 rebounds) and junior sharpshooter Keenan Rudy-Phol (19 points), Taylor countered every punch from the host Spartans.
“Isaiah is definitely the key cog for us. When he’s composed, we’re composed,” said Lowell Catholic fifth-year coach Mike Isola. “He’s the heart and soul of our team. He’s been playing against some of the best players in the state and is showing that he’s a scholarship player.”
The teams traded the lead five times in the fourth quarter before the Crusaders used a decisive 9-2 run to take a 58-52 advantage.
Missing two rotational players due to an illness that kept several more key players out of practice this past week, St. Mary’s battled back to create an exciting finish. Joey Abate-Walsh (15 points, 9 rebounds) connected on three free throws and drained a triple to tie it, 63-63, with 23 seconds left.
Abate-Walsh blocked Rudy-Phol on the final possession of the game, but the loose ball caromed out to Taylor, who provided the heroic signature moment.
“Our kids just didn’t quit,” said Isola. “This is arguably the biggest win we’ve had as a program.”
Bishop Connolly 70, Bishop Stang 69 — Senior A.J. Sousa scored 23 points for the Cougars (4-1). The Spartans missed a last-second shot attempt to help Bishop Connolly cement the win.
Latin Academy 67, Durfee 50 — Junior Abbulahi Aden knocked down six 3-pointers en route to a career-high 30 point performance for the host Dragons (8-2).
North Reading 74, Boston United 44 — Junior Will Taylor scored 21 points to give the Hornets (4-5) the non-league win.
Saugus 73, Northeast 48 — Junior Joe Russo (15 points) and senior Michael Bertrand (11 points) combined for 26 points off the bench as the host Sachems (3-7) qualified for the state tournament via the Sullivan Rule.
Sturgis East 39, Upper Cape 35 — Nathan Nawoichik drained four free throws in the final 30 seconds to lift the visiting Storm to the win.
Cardinal Spellman 50, Hull 38 — Senior captain Mariah Harris scored a career-high 31 points to lead the visiting Cardinals (2-6).
Falmouth 53, Old Rochester 45 — Ariana Silvia scored 22 points and Kayla Thomas added 21 points to lift the Clippers (8-1) to a win over Old Rochester.
Boston United 53, CASH 50 — Boston United’s Lazhia Lobo scored 32 points in the win.
Malden Catholic 67, Cristo Rey 19 — Sophomore captain Andrea Turner (12 points, 6 assists, 6 steals) led the charge for the host Lancers (6-3), who built a 40-8 halftime lead. Nine players scored at least two baskets. Sophomore Deanna Miles-Langaugne (9 points) led the Knights (0-3).
“It feels good to get a win,” Malden Catholic coach Jay Keane said. “We lost two tough ones in a row, so it’s good to get the girls back on track.”
Saugus 52, Medford 44 — Taylor Bogdanski scored 16 points to lead the Sachems (6-2) past the Mustangs.
St. Mary’s 74, Austin Prep 44 — Maiya Bergdorf scored 26 points to lead the fourth-ranked Spartans (12-1) to their 12th straight victory.
Boston Latin 4, Andover 3 — Owen O’Brien netted the go-ahead goal with six minutes left to lift the Wolfpack (8-1-1) to the MVC/Dual County League win in South Boston. Noah Sargent tallied two goals for Latin.
Norwood 2, Holliston 1 — Goals by Bryan Metayer and Anthony Marchant lifted the Mustangs (6-1-1) to the Tri-Valley League win.
Waltham 2, Needham 1 — Freshman Drew Anderson scored the game-winning goal for the Hawks (5-3).
Whitman-Hanson 2, Southeastern 1 — Brothers Adam and Matt Solari each scored a goal for the Panthers (6-3) while Bob Siders made 17 saves in net.
Archbishop Williams 7, Stoneham 3 — Senior Kaitlyn Fox and sophomore Karaline O’Toole each recorded a hat trick for the visiting Bishops (7-3).
Austin Prep 10, Hingham 3 — Felicia Zuccola had a hat trick as the Cougars (5-0-2) scored seven goals in the final period to complete a comeback victory on the road.
Brooks 1, Phillips Andover 1 — Brooks’ Brianna O’Neill scored the game-winner for the Bishops (5-1-1) in overtime.
Nobles 3, Rivers 1 — Junior Katie Pyne scored two goals to lift the Bulldogs (13-0) over the Red Wings (5-2).
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