A post-Palestra malaise seemed to have each team in a funk early, but, late, Martin Luther King and Bonner-Prendergast treated the sparse-but-lively crowd at Ben Franklin to an overtime thriller to decide the District 12 Class 5A championship.
The Friars won their first district title, 64-59, despite trailing by eight points with about a minute left in regulation and then by five with 48.9 still left in regularly scheduled programming.
In overtime, Isaiah Wong scored seven of his game-high 31 points. He also hit a critical three-pointer in regulation that cut the Cougars’ lead to 48-46, with 31.2 left.
“It was a good, character win,” said B-P coach Jack Concannon. “I told them you had a built-in excuse if you wanted it. We could have packed it in. We were down [late] and everyone would have said, ‘Well, it was a letdown.’ But that’s not them. That’s not how they operate, so I was proud of them for the way they came back and fought.”
After the final horn, a B-P supporter said aloud, “Y’all can’t keep doing this to my nerves!”
The Friars will likely play Friday. King, which was routed, 66-37, by Imhotep in the Public League finale at the Palestra, will also play in the 5A bracket next week.
Monday night, the Friars lost a cuticle-chewer at the Palestra after Roman Catholic’s Lynn Greer III hit Hakim Hart for the game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left in the Catholic League championship game.
Wong, a junior point guard, wasn’t about to see his No. 1 supporter sad again.
“I was, like, we have to win this,” said Wong, who added nine rebounds. “If we lost, it would have been a bad [week]. I wasn’t trying to have all that, because my mom [LaChelle Wong], she was feeling a little sad from the championship game, so I had to come back better with this one.”
King started the third quarter behind, 21-16, but outscored the Friars, 17-9, in the frame to take a 33-30 advantage into the fourth.
Then, with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left and King ahead by two, senior guard Denelle Holly Jr. appeared to land awkwardly on the leg of the scorer’s table after attempting a jump-pass.
Holly left the game but returned at the 2:18 mark to find King ahead by four.
Then with 1:03 left, B-P junior Tariq Ingraham completed a three-point play that got the Friars within five points.
The Friars then pressured the ensuing inbounds play, which led to a fastbreak for King, which couldn’t convert a wide-open dunk, which rattled around the rim before bouncing out.
The Friars got fouled with 48.9 left but missed both free throws. King took possession, got fouled and also missed both free throws.
That’s when Wong drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key with 31.2 left.
“We’ve come to expect it from him,” Concannon said. “He’s our best player and the best player in the league.”
With Holly (team-high 15 points) back in the game, King turned the ball over on its next possession, which led to Wong getting fouled and converting the game-tying freebies.
King then turned it over again along the sideline, which gave the Friars a chance to end it in regulation with 16 seconds left.
Wong, who finished 9 of 19 overall and 12 of 16 at the foul line, couldn’t convert a short jumper, and senior forward Ajiri Johnson missed the putback, which sent the game into overtime.
Concannon said sometimes his team waits for Wong to be brilliant.
In stretches, a few Friars asserted themselves. Sophomore guard Mahir Sharif scored all five of his points in overtime. In the first half, freshman James Welde (three points) provided a spark off the bench.
King senior Will McNair finished with 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 19 seconds left in regulation. Jerry Andrews added nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Friars finished 27 of 37 at the foul line, while the Cougars finished 9 of 16.
Bonner-Prendie 7 16 7 18 16 — 64
King 7 9 17 15 11 — 59
BP: Isaiah Wong 31, Tariq Ingraham 16, Mahir Sharif 5, Ajiri Johnson 3, Mike Perretta 3, Yohance Garner 3, James Welde 3.
K: Denelle Holly Jr. 15, Will McNair 11, Jerry Andrews 9, Ricardo Monteiro 7, Hyseir Miller 6, Kenneth Wilson 3, Yasir Durant 3, Dawud Jenkins 3, Semaj Oliver 2.