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A well-executed game plan by Hyde Park nearly derailed No. 1 Curie in the semifinals of the Public League playoffs before the Condors pulled out a 58-56 victory Wednesday at Chicago State University.
After walking off the court, Curie coach Mike Oliver said “We were lucky we won the game in spite of ourselves. This team needs to remember who Cliff Alexander is.”
A breakaway layup by Joseph Stamps with 21 seconds remaining in the final quarter proved to be the winning margin, as it broke a 55 all tie and put the Condors up 57-55.
The Thunderbirds blew a golden opportunity to tie the score with 11.6 seconds remaining when they failed to convert the back end of a two-shot foul that cut the lead to 57-56.
Devin Gage sank one of two free throws to put the Condors up 58-56 with four seconds remaining in the game. Hyde Park (18-9) missed a desperation three at the buzzer.
Stamps led Curie (23-1) with 15 points, Gage followed with 12 points, Josh Stamps added 10 and Alexander, despite being double and triple-teamed, eked out a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Alexander breathed a heavy sigh of relief going into the locker room. “Give them credit,” he said. “They came to play and I respect that. We were not focused the way we should have been and almost lost.”
Hyde Park coach Antoine Samuels said his team followed the game plan. “We wanted to make the other players beat us,” said Samuels. “We didn’t want Cliff to beat us by himself.”
Marcus Smith led all scorers with 19 points for Hyde Park, Martin Oliver scored 12, Antoine Pike had 11 and Kendall Ivy added 10.
“We had them and we let it slip away,” said Smith. “Right now I am just sick.”