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The play call for Marist with 4.2 seconds left in overtime and the game tied against Hyde Park in a Class 4A Mount Carmel Regional semifinal is called “Deep Wizard” according to coach Gene Nolan.
It was designed to give LJ McIntosh a back door pass and a direct line to the hoop. Waiting for McIntosh was Thunderbirds 6-6 Tory Mason, who already registered six blocked shots.
McIntosh took the pass and dribbled fearlessly into Mason, using his body to create space before pumping in a layup at the buzzer for a thrilling 62-60 Marist win.
The RedHawks will meet Simeon on Friday for the regional championship.
“It was a play for me and I just tried to cut as hard as I could,” said McIntosh, a senior who finished with a game-high 23 points. “I knew if I didn’t cut hard our season could be over.”
The season appeared to be close to being over for the RedHawks (18-10) with a little over 2 minutes left when Mason (20 points) gave the Thunderbirds (19-8) the lead 50-47 on an inside basket.
But a basket by Lexus Williams (19 points), who was helped off the court just minutes earlier in what appeared to be an ankle injury, and a three by McIntosh gave them a 52-50 lead with 59 seconds left.
A rebound and a basket with 22.3 second left by the Thunderbirds’ Joshua Kirkendoll tied the game and eventually sent it into overtime. The Thunderbirds played the second half without Moshawn Thomas, who had nine points but had to be helped off the court with a leg injury.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” said Nolan, whose team trailed 23-11 after a quarter and 46-36 early in the third. “We kept coming back.”
Simeon made easy work of the RedHawks in the City/Suburban Showcase last weekend, and also eliminated them last season in the Argo Sectional title game.
“We have to contain them more on the inside because they scored about 35 points in the paint on us [last weekend],” McIntosh said. “We have to force them to shoot more outside then inside because once they get it inside it’s basically a dunk.”