2006-03-31 / Sports

LWA Fouls Out In Heartbreaking Title Loss

By Elio Velez

Tyrone Nash heads to the basket as Peekskill's Mookie Jones trails on the play. Photo By Ravi Rozier.
Tyrone Nash heads to the basket as Peekskill's Mookie Jones trails on the play. Photo By Ravi Rozier. One by one, the Lawrence Woodmere Academy starting basketball lineup was disappearing from the floor in the Federation Class A championship against Peekskill.

A veteran Tigers team had five senior starters who outplayed Peekskill for three and a half quarters. LWA was up by 10 with 5:42 left when standout forward Tyrone Nash mysteriously picked up his fifth foul.

Without Nash on the floor, Peekskill got the momentum on their side. As LWA starters Jakor Riddick and Josh Marshall also fouled out, they tried to hold on to the lead but a talented Peekskill team had too much for the depleted Tigers.

It was the Peekskill backcourt of Tyrone Murphy and Philip Oliver that would be instrumental in their 81-75 win last Saturday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

LWA tried to hang on to a narrow lead in the last few minutes but Peeksill (27-1) would go ahead. Murphy stole the ball from backup guard Marc Brandt and connected on a three point play to give them a 68-67 lead with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter.

Oliver could not be checked as headed to the basket and scored 10 of his 18 points in the quarter.

The last senior standing on the floor for the Tigers (23-4) was guard R.J. Rutledge who carried them throughout the ballgame with an outstanding performance on 33 points. He hit on two free throws to narrow the Peekskill lead to 72-71 but LWA could not get any closer. In what head coach Jeff Weiss labeled the best team he's coached in long career at the school, it was heartbreaking for him to see his seniors sit on the bench in the final minutes.

"I told them I was proud of the way they played. They should be proud of their effort," Weiss said.

"We lost four starters and we kept it a competitive game until the end."

What turned the game from a possible LWA title victory, which they would have won for the first time since 2002, were some curious calls by the referees. As the fouls piled up, it reached a critical mass for LWA when point guard Chris Larrea fouled out at the end of the third quarter.

They handled his absence, but it was Nash, the versatile 6 foot 7 center who scored 16 points and 8 rebounds in his final game, who was too valuable to lose.

He was charged with a reach in foul on Peekskill's Murphy but seemed to be clear of the play. The dubious call sent Nash to the bench where he would soon be joined by his starting lineup.

"We knew he was important. It was a huge foul call. We were trying to keep him in the game. He's my best player. He does a lot of things for us. As he went down, we started slipping a bit," Weiss said.

A sad Nash didn't like the way he wanted to finish his high school career.

It was a great season. But those things are out of my control. But unfortunately we didn't get the win.

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