GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — There was no secret what Cardinal O’Hara’s gameplan was to try to contain Lawrence Woodmere’s Aidan Igiehon. Bodies, bodies and more bodies. Which is nothing the 6-10, 235-pound Louisville commit isn’t used to, but after early foul trouble limited his minutes, Igiehon struggled to find his rhythm.
Igiehon was held to five points on 1 of 3 shooting with five rebounds, two assists and two blocks as Lawrence Woodmere fell to Cardinal O’Hara, 48-46, in a boys basketball state Federation Class B semifinal at Cool Insuring Arena Saturday afternoon in his final high school game.
“I wasn’t as dominant as I usually was and that’s a huge part of our offense,” Igiehon said. “I wasn’t on the floor, I think that was the main issue. If I’m not scoring, I can rebound, I’ll run the floor so it was definitely tough and the refs were calling it tight. I’m bigger, stronger than everybody, so if I go out there and bump somebody, it looks bad.”
With Igiehon, who coach Jeff Weiss said entered the game averaging 26 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks a game, facing constant triple teams and coming on and off the court, Tyler St. Furcy, who is committed to Marist, took the prominent scoring role for the the Tigers. He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
“I know that’s the regular Tyler,” Igiehon said. “I work out with him every day so I’m just happy that [everybody] got to see it. He’s a great player.”
But the game didn’t go without some controversy. With Lawrence Woodmere trailing 45-43 with 24 seconds remaining and six seconds left on the shot clock, O’Hara’s attempt appeared to miss the rim. But the Hawks were awarded a new shot clock, rather than a violation and turnover, following a Justin Hemphill offensive rebound.
“They said they saw the ball change direction,” Weiss said he was told by the officials. “I said, ‘It didn’t come close to hitting the rim.’ I said, ‘Who saw it?’ and [one official] said the other official saw it change direction. That was his words.”
But Weiss was quick to not to blame the outcome of the game on one call. After Lawrence Woodmere led 35-30 after three quarters, O’Hara (26-1) outscored the Tigers 18-11 in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t think we played well, particularly,” Weiss said. “So I don’t think that’s the reason why we lost.”
Jaedin Cottman would hit two free throws for O’Hara on the ensuing possession before a three-pointer from Lawrence Woodmere’s Maurice Butler brought the score to within 47-46 with five seconds remaining. After O’Hara hit one of two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining, the Tigers’ half-court buzzer beater missed in the game’s final possession.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think we lost because we didn’t play hard enough,” Igiehon said. “I just thought we didn’t execute.”
Andrew Richards had eight points with Larry Rhabb adding seven points for Lawrence Woodmere (22-5). All seven of Rhabb’s points came in the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers to keep the Tigers close.
But for the final 12.2 seconds, there was nothing Igiehon could do but watch from the bench after fouling out. It was 12 of the hardest seconds in his tremendous five-year tenure at Lawrence Woodmere, after leaving his family in Ireland as an eighth grader to study and play basketball on Long Island. After never playing the sport until the seventh grade, Igiehon quickly became one of the most heralded prospects in his class.
He wanted to end his time at Lawrence Woodmere with a Federation championship, but the senior on his way to Louisville was thankful for everybody he came to know on Long Island as he moves on to the next stage of his basketball career.
“It’s been a long five years,” Igiehon said. “I’m very proud of myself, very proud of my coaches, very proud of my players. It’s sad to go out like this, but there’s so much more to achieve out there and I just can’t get too high, I can’t get too low, so I’m just going to be back in the lab again working for the next level.”
“He’s why we’re here,” Weiss said. “He’s been everything to the program.”