By Phil Anastasia
With his big brother on the bench with concussion symptoms, junior Alec Walker made the shot of his varsity career -- a buzzer-beating layup to lift Eastern to a 55-54 victory over Bishop Eustace on Saturday afternoon.
Walker's shot marked the third lead change in the final 1:31 and capped a wild game before an engaged crowd in the Bishop Eustace fieldhouse.
Eastern (12-4) played without seniors Avery Walker and Nick Tierno (knee), both of whom were injured in Friday night's win over Timber Creek, as well as junior Tom Flacco, who is attending the Super Bowl.
Junior center Matt Klinewski scored 20 and senior guard Devon Bell added 16 for Eastern.
Junior Flo DaSilva scored 11 for BE (11-6), which lost its third in a row -- its second straight by a point.
"It's the difference between a good season and a great season," BE coach Bob Falconiero said of the narrow defeats.
DaSilva's steal and three-point play gave BE a 54-53 lead with 0:17 on the clock.
That capped a 6-0 run by the Crusaders that started when senior guard Tom Falconiero, the coach's son, made a three-pointer jumper from the left corner with a defender in his face at the 0:28 mark.
Before that, Eastern had surged to a 53-48 lead as Bell generated two steals and two layups in a sequence that began at the 1:31 mark and senior Sam Johnson added a pair of free throws at 0:48.
After DaSilva's three-point play, Eastern raced down to the court to look for a shot. With time running out, Eastern coach Joe Murphy called timeout with 0:05 to play.
"We wanted to get the ball to Matt,'" Murphy said.
Murphy also inserted Alec Walker into the game.
"He's got some size and I thought maybe he could get a tip," Murphy said of the 6-3 Walker. "I didn't think he'd pick it up off the ground."
Klinewski took the side inbounds pass and drove the right baseline. He was trapped under the basket by two defenders and tried to shovel a pass to Johnson.
The ball was tipped and bounced through a Bishop Eustace player's legs and right to Walker, who picked it up and deposited the layup as the buzzer sounded.
Eastern students charged the crowd in celebration.
"Being down three guys, to come in here, that's a good win for us," Murphy said.
-- Reach Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.