Down double-digits to Christ Chapel in the second half of Saturday night’s Mount Vernon Holiday Tournament Final, it seemed as if it wasn’t John Paul the Great’s night. The fourth quarter changed all of that.
Junior guard DJ Slaughter’s driving lay-up with under ten seconds left helped secure an impressive 69-67 comeback victory for the Wolves, who out-scored their opponents 22-11 in the final quarter. John Paul was the far more aggressive team late, with Slaughter (16 points total), senior guard Jared Perry (17 points), and senior wing Jayden Hibbitt (20 points).
The trio told us after the game they were never in panic mode.
“There’s no confidence loss ever,” Hibbitt said. “We know we’re a fourth quarter team and we’re going to get it done in the fourth.”
That was apparent right away as JPTG came unto the court to start the final frame. The Wolves immediately went on a 9-2 run to get within a bucket, with Hibbitt impressively following his miss with a put-back over 6’7″ Christ Chapel center Trey Barber. Then, a few minutes later with 1:45 left, a bucket by Perry tied things up at 62.
Lions sophomore guard Maurice Johnson (13 points) converted an and-one opportunity to put Christ Chapel up 65-62. The Wolves immediately counter-attacked, with junior Coretez Lewis converting an and-one of his own to tie the score.
Slaughter, who was clutch from the free throw line all night, then drained two free throws after he was fouled on a rebound. After a Barber bucket tied the score once again, Slaughter showed no hesitation attacking the rim for the game-winner. The shot was especially impressive with the shot-blocker Barber patrolling the lane on defense.
“I just knew we needed a bucket,” he said. “I saw the lane free and saw Trey [Barber] step up at the end so I tried to lean a little bit to get the finish, and it just went in.”
Christ Chapel, who seemed to lose aggressiveness with the lead late, could not return the favor and JPTG had claimed the tourney title. The victory was impressive as were all of the Wolves’ wins at Mount Vernon. They defeated dangerous Yorktown in the first round and then stunned undefeated #5 Osbourn with a double-digit victory Friday.
“The tough schedule we play has helped us improve,” Wolves coach Angelo Hunt said. “This is our schedule, yearly. Ten years in the game now and it’s about time we get a little notice.”
They certainly deserved that notice this weekend. Lewis added 13 for John Paul (6-5), which continues its tough schedule Wednesday at Maret. Barber led the Lions (10-3) with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and a bushel of blocks.
all stats are unofficial
|JOHN PAUL THE GREAT||FG||FT||TP||REB||AST|
|Threes: Hibbitt 2-6, Perry 1-1, Slaughter 1-3, Lewis 0-1, Mitchell 0-4|
|Threes: Pulley 2-3, Wilson 1-1, Johnson 1-2, Gaskins 1-4, Barber 0-1|