In a game on Semi-Final Saturday, two former Archbishop Stepanic High School teammates faced off in NCAA Final Four game. White Plains native RJ Davis, the North Carolina Tarheel sophomore point guard vs Ossining native AJ Griffin, the 6’6″ Duke Blue Devil small forward for a chance to advance to the NCAA Championship game against the No 1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
RJ Davis – who’s dad Robert Davis scored 2,118 points (without a three-point shot) from 1982-86 at Mercy College and still holds the Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., school’s career scoring record – score 12 of the eighth-seeded Tar Heels first 18 points.
North Carolina and Duke met for the biggest stakes their rivalry game has ever had, and with all the hype and all the attention, they delivered in spades. There were a dozen ties, 18 lead changes.
Caleb Love wrote his name on the Mount Rushmore of UNC shots, hitting a key 3-pointer and three late free throws to lift archrival North Carolina to a thrill-a-minute 81-77 victory over the Blue Devils. This was the 258th, most consequential and maybe, just maybe, the best meeting between the teams, whose arenas are separated by 11 miles down in Tobacco Road.
“It means everything to me,” Love said of his key 3 with 25 seconds left.
At around the 2-minute mark, the teams traded three straight 3s. Wendell Moore Jr.’s 3-pointer with 1:19 left ended the flurry and gave Duke a 74-73 lead. It was the last lead of Krzyzewski’s career.
R.J. Davis, who finished with 18 points, came back with two free throws, then after Duke’s Mark Williams, in foul trouble all night, missed a pair from the line, North Carolina worked the ball around the perimeter.
Tar Heels guard Leaky Black set a pick — make that threw a block — on Trevor Keels to free up Love, who drained a 3 for a four-point lead and what felt like massive breathing room.
Love made three more free throws down the stretch, and it was over. Krzyzewski walked off the Superdome floor hand in hand with his wife, Mickie.
The Tar Heels move on to the national championship game against Kansas, while Duke bids farewell to Mike Krzyzewski, who suffers a loss to the Tar Heels in what became the final game of his Hall of Fame career. It was Coach K’s last Final Four appearance and former New York Knicks and UNC Tar Heel shooting guard and now Tar Heel’s freshman head coach Hurbert Davis’s first appearance.
Coach Davis was crying again, much as he did last weekend when North Carolina punched its ticket to its record 21st Final Four.
“I felt like over the last two or three years, North Carolina wasn’t relevant,” said Coach Davis, who replaced the Hall of Famer Roy Williams. “North Carolina should never be irrelevant. It should be front and center with the spotlight on them.”
The Tar Heels defeated the #4 ranked Blue Devils 94-81 to hand their rivals their fifth loss of the season.
Freshman Paolo Banchero led the Blue Devils with 20 points, and Keels had 19. Ossining’s A.J. Griffin, never really got untracked, finishing with only six points.