Sometimes, one player can make a difference.
Casey Hall hit the go-ahead basket with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift Shaker past LaSalle 61-58 in Saturday’s Section II Class AA boys basketball quarterfinal game at Hudson Valley Community College.
Hall missed the first two months of the season due to a broken wrist. Among the games he was absent for was a 56-41 Shaker loss to LaSalle in December’s Julius Girmindl/Pep Sand Tournament.
Hall was front and center in Saturday’s quarterfinal, though. The senior forward made several critical baskets including the one that put the Blue Bison ahead to stay.
“He’s that kind of player,” said Shaker coach Jeff Holmes. “We don’t ask him to do more than he can do. When he’s Casey Hall, he’s at his best.”
Shaker (16-4) carried a 46-39 lead into the fourth quarter, but LaSalle (14-6) refused to fade. The Cadets opened the final period on a 10-2 run to take a 49-48 lead, which set up a hectic final stretch.
“Even when we pulled away, we knew that LaSalle would gut it out and make a comeback because that’s the type of team they are,” said Holmes.
Chinalu Abara made a pair of free throws to put Shaker ahead 50-49, but LaSalle guard Ralph Erickson -- who was nearly automatic from the charity strip all evening -- drained four consecutive foul shots to give the Cadets a 53-50 advantage.
LaSalle was still up by three points when Hall made a tough shot and was fouled on the play. Hall added the free throw to tie the game at 55 with 3:56 left. Chris Landers then scored on Shaker’s next possession to give the Blue Bison a 57-55 advantage.
Erickson stepped up once again for LaSalle by driving to the basket and getting fouled. His shot didn’t drop, but he made both free throws to knot the score at 57.