Both Benjamin N. Cardozo and Bayside high school's basketball teams knew coming into last night's game that one would continue to be undefeated in the PSAL league, while the other would suffer its first defeat of the season.
What the team's players did not know was that the game would be decided by who would hustle hardest for the win as Cardozo escaped with a 66-63 victory.
"We were very much prepared for this game - it's just that we are a young team, so [we] have not experienced the crowd, the moment," said Chris Gayot, a Cardozo senior and guard who finished with 15 points and eight assists.
"As a senior, I had to lift them over the hump," he said.
"I knew this was going to be a tough game, even if we won by 15, 20 points because they were coming to play," Cardozo coach Ronald Narclerio said of Bayside's team. "We had them down early, but they didn't quit."
Bayside started off slowly as Cardozo led by 15 points in the first half. That lead quickly vanished as the deficit was cut to one in the third quarter. Senior forward Tyrel Hunt bailed out Cardozo with a three-point play to expand the lead with 43 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Hunt scored a total 12 points in the game.
"Our first half was great, our second half was stupid," Narclerio said. "We did a lot of stupid things. This team (Cardozo) is a little like last year's team. The only difference is this team hasn't blown a game yet."
Going into the fourth quarter, Bayside came out of the gate energized with scores from senior guard William Dobie, who finished with 13 points, and sophomore guard Austin Williams to narrow the score. Cardozo responded back with their own tag team of Gayot and Hunt to push their lead with just four minutes left.
After several turnovers and missed free throws by Cardozo, Bayside had a chance to send the game into overtime with a last second shot, but failed.
Located less than three miles away from each other, a rivalry hardly existed as Cardozo dominated in previous meetings. Even though what appeared to be a comeback came up short, Bayside coach Cory Semper said he was pleased with the success of his players and was already looking forward to the rematch at their home court.
"The rivalry is definitely back," he said. [Narclerio] still has to come to our place. These threes they hit - it's going to be out of bounds because our court is small."