CENTRAL VALLEY, N.Y. — The Kingston High boys basketball team took a big step toward wrapping up an Orange County Interscholastic Association (OCIAA) Division 1 title and the top seed in the upcoming Section 9 Class AAA playoffs by pulling out a 63-61 overtime win over Monroe-Woodbury on Monday.
The Tigers got a 3-pointer from junior Marcus Steele to tie the game at 57-57 with two seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Kingston (5-1 OCIAA, 13-3 overall) won its sixth straight by outscoring the host Crusaders (3-3, 13-3) by 6-4 in the overtime period.
Steele scored a bucket to open the overtime session, but Monroe-Woodbury scored four straight points to take a 61-59 lead. Kingston forward Derek Constance tied it 61-61 with two foul shots.
Eli Abrams broke the 61-61 deadlock with a pair of free throws with 33 seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 63-61 lead. Kingston got a stop on the Crusaders’ next possession, but Kingston failed to score on its next trip down the floor. Monroe-Woodbury got the ball back with two seconds left, but a final heave from beyond halfcourt missed the mark.
The Tigers have two more OCIAA games remaining. They’ll travel to Pine Bush on Monday, Feb. 12, and then complete the regular season with a home game vs. Newburgh Free Academy (NFA) on Monday, Feb. 19.
A Kingston sweep of the remaining two league games will clinch the OCIAA divisional title and the top seed in the Class AAA playoffs.
NFA is currently in second place in the OCIAA standings with a 3-1 mark. The Goldbacks dealt the Tigers their only league loss with a 77-74 win on Dec. 12.
Though Kingston blew out Monroe-Woodbury 70-52 a week earlier on the night senior guard Ke’Montae Thawe eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for the Tigers, KHS coach Ron Kelder said he expected a much tighter game when the teams met Monday night on the Crusaders’ home court.
Kelder turned out to be right.
“We knew we were going to be in for a battle tonight,” Kelder said. “We knew that we handled them at home, but Monroe is a whole different team at their home. They were physical. It was a typical road game, but we brought heart and energy. We shot a very low percentage, probably below 30 percent. We struggled all night to find a way to put the ball in the basket. When we got an open look, we didn’t make it.
When we weren’t getting open looks, we were forcing some tough shots. But we grinded it out and found a way to win.”
Thawe led the Tigers with 16 points. Abrams was next with 14 points, which included making all six of his free throws. Steele added 11 points, including the 3-pointer that necessitated overtime. Constance chipped in with eight points.
Kingston made 13 of 16 shots from the foul line.
“That’s good for us,” Kelder said.
Monroe-Woodbury took a 9-0 lead to start the game, but the Tigers rallied to take an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Crusaders took a 36-34 lead at the half and extended it to a 48-41 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Kingston looked to be in trouble as it trailed 57-54 with the clock winding down to the final seconds until Steele’s heroic shot got the Tigers into overtime.
“We were down three with time running out and we kicked the ball to him in the corner and he buried it,” Kelder said. “It was make it or go home. That was huge.”
Fabrice Njda led Monroe-Woodbury with 17 points.
Kingston returns home Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. non-league game against Section 2 foe Green Tech.