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Up eight in fourth quarter, Westbury falls in state Class A semifinal

Westbury's Sheldon Hagigal drives the lane under Ben

Westbury's Sheldon Hagigal drives the lane under Ben Holt during their game against Newark at the NYS Boys Basketball Tournament in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Mar. 20, 2010) Photo Credit: Pat Orr

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - In the hallway outside their locker room after the game, a few distraught Westbury players sat quietly on benches waiting for the door to be unlocked. One door down and a few feet away, Newark's players celebrated loudly.

A few from the Westbury side buried their heads in their jerseys while the players down the hall yelled, "We did it!"

What Newark did was come back from an eight-point fourth- quarter deficit to beat Westbury, 55-48, in a state Class A boys basketball semifinal Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

"It hurts," an emotional Westbury captain Lamard Herron said after spending a few minutes in his locker room, "because our season wasn't supposed to end this way."

For a while, it looked as if it wouldn't. Westbury led for much of the first half and all but the final 1:58 of the second half. That was when Newark (23-1) took a 49-48 lead en route to scoring the game's final eight points in what became a 16-1 run in the final 4:40.

Newark's 6-7 center, Javon McCrea (25 points, 18 rebounds, eight blocked shots), was a force, but he really took over defensively in the final two minutes, blocking three shots in the paint, two on attempts by Sheldon Hagigal (17 points).

Tyrone Hill (nine points) gave Newark the 49-48 lead on an inside move with just under two minutes left. Hill's three-point play with 53.6 seconds to go made it 52-48. Hagigal misfired on a three-pointer and McCrea made a foul shot before Ben Holt punctuated the run with a dunk with less than 10 seconds left.

Westbury went without a field goal after Tyrece Redd gave the Green Dragons a 47-39 lead with about five minutes left.

"We were not able to make shots, especially down the stretch," Westbury coach Dave Graff said. "And you can't do that in a big game."

Westbury (18-5) went ahead 33-23 two minutes into the second half, but Newark used a 9-0 run to pull within one with 4:50 left in the third quarter. McCrea, headed to the University at Buffalo, had four points in that spurt.

Paris Abrams had seven points and Herron and Redd each added six. Even though 6-6 center Luckens Victor, Westbury's only player taller than 6-3, sat out seven minutes of the second quarter with two fouls, the Dragons led 28-23 at halftime, and that five-point lead grew to eight with just minutes to play.

"If you run into a superior team and you get beat, there's nothing to hang your heads about," Graff said. "But when you're winning most of the game . . . and you think you're the better team, and you lose, that's the toughest loss to take."

Even tougher when the other team is celebrating next door.

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