WHITE PLAINS – Spring Valley tried to produce more magic, but this time there were no clutch shots taken, no last-second feats of fearlessness.
Instead, the Tigers were beaten by Bishlp Loughlin down the stretch in Tuesday’s Slam Dunk championship, falling 67-65 in the tournament finale at the County Center. The Lions were strong at the free-throw line in the final minutes and were in control of a two- or three-possession game until Spring Valley’s Jy’Quan Boykin hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
Bishop Loughlin (6-2) spent the night expressing its frustration with foul calls, but sophomore Markquis Nowell provided the steadiest hand in the clutch. The 5-foot-10 transfer from St. Anthony’s (N.J.) was a perfect 9 for 9 from the line, all nine of them in the fourth quarter.
“That’s what he does. He calms everybody down and takes care of business,” Loughlin coach Edwin Gonzalez said. “He refuses to lose.”
Spring Valley actually took its first lead of the game, 47-45, when junior Devan Lawson scored with 7:30 remaining. The Lions tied it just 13 seconds later and then went ahead for good when Nowell buried a 3-pointer on the left wing and drew Lawson’s fourth foul in the process. The four-point play pushed Loughlin in front 51-47 with 6:22 to play.
The loss was Spring Valley’s third straight in the Slam Dunk final, but it was just this team’s first defeat of the season.
Senior Jy’Quan Boykin had 18 points on the strength of four 3s, which helped the Tigers (5-1) erase a 33-21 halftime deficit.
“I would think that if we have anything to learn from this, it’s how to finish a game,” said Tigers coach Willie Worsley, whose team dropped to 5-1. “When we were tied or up one, we did some ill-advised things. We were in a rush. We just weren’t as polished as they were. I don’t know if it was a lack of experience or a lack of confidence, but probably a little of both.”
Player of the game: Markquis Nowell, Bishop Loughlin. Nowell earned Slam Dunk MVP honors with 23 points and three assists in the final. For the tournament, he made 15 of 22 shots (9 of 13 from 3-point land) and sank all 12 free throws.
Stat line: Bishop Loughlin’s Keith Williams had 14 points, including 12 in the first half. Jeremy Betjol added nine points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Idan Tretout had nine points and seven rebounds off the bench. … The Lions hit 23 of 28 free throws. The sharp shooting helped them survive 21 turnovers. … Marc Dorsainvil had 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals for Spring Valley. … Lawson scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Quotable: “They are a very experienced team besides being a very good team. They know how to win. We’re learning,” Worsley said. “We were so nervous in the first half. I think we dug too big a hole to come back from against a great team like that.”