Justin Hemphill is quite familiar with what it’s like to achieve a milestone.
The Cardinal O’Hara senior attained another historic moment in his career before the home folks Wednesday, except on this night he wasn’t the only Hawk to have the game stopped in recognition of a feat.
Hemphill notched a triple-double en route to becoming the first O’Hara player to reach the 1,000-career-rebound milestone. Classmate Jermaine Haynes Jr. surpassed the 1,000-career-points barrier by pouring in 26 as the Buffalo News’ top-ranked small school cruised to a 95-80 victory over No. 3 small school Tapestry.
Hemphill, the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, needed just nine boards to hit 1,000. He grabbed the milestone while being fouled on a putback bid with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
Haynes needed to score 25 to become just the seventh Hawk to hit the points milestone. He did it by hitting a tough layup off a feed from Avion Harris (18 points) with 4:43 left.
Officials stopped the game after each achievement with Hemphill and Haynes receiving his own commemorative basketball and posing for photos.
“He’s one of my best friends in high school,” Hemphill said of both achieving career milestones the same game. “We kind of planned It getting our (milestones) on the same day. It’s cool and something we’ll definitely remember.”
“It means a lot,” Haynes said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve it knowing that I had to play JV freshman year. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t be able to achieve it.”
Both crushed it on a day in which unbeaten O’Hara (15-0) on multiple occasions kicked it into another gear to pull away from the defending Section VI Class C champions.
“Both of them have been part of Cardinal O’Hara and my program since I’ve been the varsity coach,” Tony Pulvirenti said. “It’s nice to have kids all four years go through the ups and downs and be able to attain milestones as seniors like they did tonight. It’s the best part about coaching, watching kids achieve their goals and become successful men. I think this helps it.”
Hemphill, who finished two assists shy of a triple-double in Tuesday’s 70-63 win at No. 5 large school Lewiston-Porter, was more than happy being the facilitator against Tapestry. Hemphill, who finished with 10 rebounds to go with 10 assists and 12 points, constantly found open players who cashed in on chances – whether it was quick passes on offensive sets or quick outlet passes in transition.
He was joined in the triple-double club by fellow senior Hakim Siner, who finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Hawks’ ability to beat the Thunderhawks (9-4) down court enabled them to pull away after both were tied at 10-10 with under 4 minutes left in the first quarter. Hemphill had a layup and assisted on a Harris trey during the stretch. Hemphill set up Haynes’ quarter-ending three which gave O’Hara a 24-16 lead. The lead grew to 41-25 late in the second quarter after Hemphill scored on a nifty finger roll in transition.
O’Hara led by as much as 24 against a Tapestry team that received a game-high 30 points from Dorian Plummer.
“When we get the ball up court we’ve got 2 on 1s, 3 on 2s, we’re creating easy baskets,” Pulvirenti said. “We usually start slow. I think it takes a little back and forth before we lock in defensively. Once we lock in defensively ... all of the sudden the game turns around.”
Cardinal O’Hara completes a stretch of three games in four days Friday at St. Joe’s in a return to Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association play.
Tapestry, which also has faced and lost to unbeaten No. 2 small school Olean, returns to action Monday at home against Buffalo Science.