Guidance withstood a frantic fourth-quarter rally by the Hoyas Monday in game four of the NBBA finals to win, 78-75, and forced a fifth and deciding game Wednesday at the Ronald Charles Gymnasium.
The Guidance lead had ballooned up to 21 points, and for many in the stands it was a foregone conclusion that victory was secured.
However, the Hoyas, just one win from a championship, rallied to within two points before coming up just short.
After the teams ended the first quarter knotted at 20 points apiece, Guidance, with their backs against the wall, played like a team desperate to survive. They had an extra pep in their step in the second quarter that seemed to have caught the Hoyas off guard. Led by 11 points by AQ St. Hillaire and eight from José Santos, Guidance exploded for 27 second-quarter points to lead by 11 at the break, 47-36.
Guidance continued their fine play early in the third period extending the lead to as many as 21, but by the midway point the Hoyas began their push. They got the lead down to 14 at 66-52 heading into the final quarter.
The Hoyas continued to cut into the Guidance lead in the fourth quarter, and many Guidance fans were screaming for a timeout. However, Coach Donald Bough, ala Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers, apparently decided to let his players right the ship on their own.
But his team was in big trouble because the Hoyas’ Karl “Mike Jones” John was on fire in the fourth as he scorched the nets for 12 in the period, and the Hoyas defensively had turned it up a notch.
The Hoyas would end up holding Guidance to just 12 points in the closing quarter. Guidance was up by just two with 5.7 seconds left on the clock when the hardest-working man on their squad, Eric “Strength” McBean, was fouled and went to the line for two free throws and a chance to ice the game.
He converted the first but missed the second. A wild long pass down the court by the Hoyas to Darnell Hendrickson for a possible chance at a tie was way off the mark, and Guidance survived the scare, 78-75, and will play Wednesday with a chance for back-to-back titles.
McBean led four Guidance players in double figures with 20 points and nine boards, St. Hillaire netted 19 with nine boards, Kitwana Rhymer had 12 points, and Santos finished with 10.
With the Guidance defense clamping down on their leading scorer, Hendrickson, the Hoyas’ Karl John picked up the slack, exploding for a game-high 32 points while pulling down 13 rebounds. Hendrickson came on in the second half during the Hoyas’ rally to finish with 17 points, and Eddie Castillo finished with 12.
“We started playing ball too late.” said Hoyas Coach Sammie Lee, “Come Wednesday you will see a different game.”
Guidance, undoubtedly, will be ready and waiting.