Patrick Jackson's shot hung on the rim for a split-second . . . which seemed a lot longer to some interested parties.
"Felt like about half an hour," St. Mary's coach Billy Harkins said.
Set up by a pump fake, Jackson's short jumper in the lane dropped through and created quite a buzz in giving the No. 1 Gaels a 66-64 overtime victory over No. 4 St. John the Baptist Sunday night in a CHSAA semifinal at LIU Post.
St. Mary's (15-8) will face No. 3 Holy Trinity for the CHSAA championship on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Hofstra.
Amazingly, it was the second buzzer-beater of the contest. The Cougars' Edwin Pizarro took an inbounds pass with seven-tenths of a second remaining in regulation and fired a three-pointer that cleanly swished to tie the score at 55.
"We just had to keep our composure and keep playing hard in overtime," said Jackson, who scored 21 points.
"You can't put your head down or they'll jump all over you. That's how you bounce back from a buzzer-beater -- with another buzzer-beater," said Steven Milhaven, who scored 25 points.
His steal and layup with 13.9 seconds left in regulation could have been a game-winning three-point play if he had added the free throw. But he caught the same bug that infected the rest of the Gaels, who missed nine straight from the foul line in the fourth quarter and shot 16-for-31 for the game. "That's sixth-grade CYO stuff," Harkins said.
Milhaven scored six straight points in the extra period, but 6-8 center Kyle Williams (28 points) sank two free throws before fouling out and Tavon Ginyard (16 points, four treys) scored five points as SJB (10-15) tied it at 60, 62 and 64.
St. Mary's gained possession with 14.9 seconds left and Jackson slashed to the basket. He lost the ball, but St. John the Baptist turned it right back with 2.1 seconds left.
Harkins said the inbounds play under the Gaels' basket was designed for the 6-4 Milhaven or 6-6 Chris Coalman (12 points). Nicholas Richards, a 6-11 freshman, would've been an option, but he had fouled out after putting his stamp on the game with 21 rebounds and nine blocks. "Patrick was the second option," Harkins said.
Milhaven set a screen that allowed Jackson to shake free in the lane. "I kept moving without the ball. I didn't want us to get a five-second call," the 6-1 junior said. "I wanted the ball. I came through before . I made a pump fake, because I knew I had time. My man came down and I put up the shot."
It was soft, with a shooter's touch and bounce . . . and a first-class finish for St. Mary's second option.