The most important meeting of the Yale Cup season was a back-and-forth game decided on a back-and-forth play.
Jamal Webb's layup with 10 seconds left brought a dramatic conclusion to East's 66-63 survival of McKinley on Tuesday evening to stay undefeated and tighten its grasp on the Yale Cup race.
With the score tied at 63-63 and 50 seconds to play, a crowd that filled the bleachers and balcony at No. 2 small school East (12-2, 6-0) watched No. 6 large school McKinley (9-4, 4-2) work the shot clock down. When William Robinson (19 points) had his drive down the right side stopped, the ball tipped out to East and it started a fast break. East coach Starling Bryant screamed for a timeout, but before he could get it, McKinley stole the ball at midcourt. Just as quickly, East stole the ball back, and sophomore Henry Mingo's pass sent Webb off and running for an open layup.
"It was crazy," said Webb. "We went back and forth. We played good 'D,' and rebounded well. If we didn't do that, we wouldn't have come out with the win."
McKinley turned the ball over on the inbounds play and was forced to foul. Antonio Speed added a free throw with 1.9 seconds left and the Macks never got a final shot off.
The momentum was with McKinley heading into the final moments. A 19-4 run gave the Macks a brief lead after they had been down by 13 early in the fourth quarter.
Robinson, a 5-8 junior, was spectacular with nine points during the run, and he fed sophomore Mansa Habeeb (21 points, three three-pointers) for a finger roll that tied the game at 61-61 with less than two minutes to play. A Robinson steal-and-layup put McKinley up, 63-61, but East beat the Macks back down the floor and quickly tied it back up on a Damien Goodwin layup.
East had led most of the game behind the outside shooting of Webb (20 points) and 5-9 senior Justin Boykins (nine) and the front line of 6-6 senior Speed (15), 6-4 junior Goodwin (12) and 6-5 junior Brandon Hall (10). A Boykins basket made it 57-44 early in the fourth, but a technical foul on Bryant with 6:23 left helped start McKinley's run.