Arturo Sealy's weak side putback just beat the buzzer, as Walton overcame a 19 point deficit, staging a miraculous comeback to stun top seed Brooklyn Law & Tech in the PSAL A Division Final at Baruch College on Saturday.
The third-seeded Wildcats trailed by 17 points at halftime and pulled within a point at 50-49 with 2:50 left before Brooklyn Law & Tech jumped back in front 57-51 with just 28 seconds remaining. Derek Smith's 25 footer made it 57-54 with 27.6 seconds left and a driving score by Andres Rivera brought Walton back within a point at 57-56 with just 9.5 ticks left on the clock.
Energized by a momentum shift fueled by a lively crowd, the Wildcats forced a turnover on the inbounds pass of Brooklyn Law & Tech's next possession, finding themselves with the ball and a chance to win it on the last possession.
With no timeouts left, Smith caught the inbounds pass and somehow managed to escape a double-team with a jump pass to Louis Florimon. Brooklyn Law & Tech refused to give up the baseline on Florimon's drive, forcing him to throw it back to Smith, who launched a despiration three from the sideline. With the shot missing long, Sealy played the carom from the weak side and converted the putback just ahead of the buzzer, capping an amazing comeback and giving Walton the 58-57 win in dramatic fashion.
Security personnel struggled to clear the floor after the Walton faithful stormed the court to celebrate the shocking comeback that involved, among other things, Walton closing the game on a 7-0 run in the final 28 seconds, resulting in the Wildcats winning the 2017 PSAL A Division Title.
Walton suffered a lopsided 94-60 loss at the hands of Brooklyn Law & Tech earlier this season, and for the last few minutes of the first half it looked like the Wildcats might get run out of the gym again. Behind the perimeter shooting of Walter Pitt, who finished with 19 points, the Jets were able to open up a 19 point lead at 37-18 before Florimon's runner made it 37-20 at the break.
Rivera led the charge for Walton in the second half, finishing with a game high 23 points and taking MVP honors, with Smith, Florimon and Sealy all making clutch shots in the final 16 minutes.
Although Brooklyn Law & Tech standouts Larry Moreno and Mikko Johnson came up with key baskets down the stretch, the Wildcats were able to get enough stops in the fourth to put themselves in a position to win it. Foul trouble for Johnson was also a factor, as he was forced to sit a portion of the second half after picking up his fourth personal.
Walton now advances to the New York State Federation tournament in Glens Falls, where they will face CHSAA A Division Champs Monsignor Farrell in the Semifinal on March 25th.