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HS BOYS BASKETBALL: Three, two, one …. and IT’S GOOOOOOOOOD! Santoro’s buzzer beater gives Lourdes DCBCA title

By Ted Remsnyder
HVSR Staff

POUGHKEEPSIE – With his team trailing Red Hook High School by one point with only three seconds remaining in the final of the  Dutchess County Basketball Coaches Association Holiday Tournament on Monday, Our Lady of Lourdes senior guard Kyle Santoro found himself with the ball at midcourt after a chaotic loose ball scramble.

Santoro looked at the clock at the opposite end of the floor, took a couple of dribbles, and did what shooters do.

The senior launched a deep three-pointer that swished through the net as time expired to give the Warriors a 68-66 championship win as the home fans went wild. In a career full of highlights for the point guard, this one topped them all.

“That was the greatest feeling,” Santoro (15 points) said of the shot. “I was surprised it went it. I didn’t think it was way off, but I didn’t think it was going in. I didn’t think that was going to happen.”

It appeared the Raiders (4-2) had the game in the bag as the clock dwindled down – Lourdes’ final possession was falling apart as Santoro had a shot blocked with six seconds remaining and the Warriors (5-0) just saved the ball from going out of bounds as senior Justin Rhynders (25 points) found Santoro with a desperation pass.

“I was on the ground and I saw the ball going out of bounds and I thought it was over then,” Santoro said. “Justin Rhynders threw it behind his back to halfcourt and I sprinted out to it. I saw three seconds left, took two dribbles and shot it.”

Kyle’s father, Lourdes coach James Santoro, was just as stunned as anyone by what transpired on the final play.

“It was just as we drew it up,” he said jokingly. “We set up the last play to get Kyle the ball and it wound up going to Justin. He bobbled it and there was some kind of scrum and we were trying to save the ball. I’m actually screaming for a timeout to try to set something up and nobody can hear it. The ball was going out of bounds and Justin had an opportunity to save it and he flips it to Kyle. He’s deep and he just stepped up. That’s what he does.”

Red Hook coach Matt Hayes was surprised at how the final seconds unfolded, but was still proud of the effort his team put forth.

“It was a wild play,” he said. “I thought we got back and made a great block. Kyle made a great read and attacked the basket, and someone on our team got a hand on the ball for a block and then there was a scramble. Sometimes things like that happen. Justin Rhynders made a great play. From my perspective it looked like he just threw it, and fortunately for them Kyle was in the area. Unfortunately for us, Kyle was in the area. Everything about the shot looked good. It was a tough way to end the game but I’m proud of how we played this weekend. This was a great experience for us.”

With Santoro held to five points in the first half, Rhynders stepped up in a big way early on, tallying 18 of his game-high 25 through intermission as the Warriors led 41-36. With senior Steve Latino suspended for the championship game after being ejected against FDR on Saturday, Rhynders clearly picked up the slack for Lourdes.

“It was phenomenal,” Coach Santoro said. “He played incredible. If he didn’t get in foul trouble in the last game he could have been co-MVP with Kyle. He got in foul trouble (vs. FDR) and couldn’t put his best effort on the floor. The shots he canned tonight and the moves that he made, the control of the game he had today was incredible. He’s just a great player.”

The game was tied at 53-53 through three quarters and Red Hook took a 64-63 lead on a tough driving score from senior Paddy Parr (19 points) with 1:29 to go. After two clutch free throws by Warriors’ freshman center James Anozie (15 points) put Lourdes up 65-64 with 1:18 remaining, Parr fed sophomore forward Colin Bemis (13 points) for a layup with 50 seconds left to give the Raiders a 66-65 lead. Bemis would then get a steal on the ensuing Lourdes possession, but the sophomore would miss a three-pointer that would have iced the game, setting up one more chance for the Warriors.

“I think that is the most exciting championship game we’ve had in the Dutchess County Coaches Tournament,” Coach Santoro said. “I’ve been here 25 years and I haven’t seen a game like this.”

He knew the back and forth contest easily could have gone the other way.

“I thought it was one of the best executed games I’ve seen on both sides in a while,” Santoro said. “There weren’t many mistakes on either side. Coach Hayes is a fantastic coach and he’s doing a great job with those kids. He was trying to get one leg up on us and every time he did we’d come right back and answer with our own execution, whether it was at the defensive end or the offensive end.”

Even after his heroics, Kyle Santoro was looking forward to the Warriors’ next game.

“We’re confident going forward,” he said. “We know that Beacon, who we play on Friday, are obviously a very good team. So we think we’ll match up good with them.”

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