Down 59-52 after three, it was Hall who grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and cashed in for five quick points. Nelson then weaved through traffic on a coast-to-coast drive, knotting things at 59-59 with 5:05 in regulation.
From there, nobody in the crowd of about 3,500 sat down the rest of the way.
Judson’s banker gave the Prep its last lead of regulation at 66-65 with a minute to play. Central’s Santos answered. And with just under a minute left Eagle Mike Bisson hit one of two free throws to tie.
Each team had a final chance. Central turned its over, and the Prep got a decent look at the buzzer, but Kareem Davis’ 16-footer clanged out.
After the teams traded deuces twice in OT, “Pettway’s Prayer” put Central up for good at 73-71.
Judson went to the hole, rolling to his left (strong) hand with the floater that had been so lethal all night.
With the shot challenged, he went sprawling off the floor and the ball rimmed out. As Central was walking it up, Judson was hit for a technical foul with 44 seconds left.
The two Nelson foul shots plus the ball pretty much ended it as Central was never threatened.
“The technical was unfortunate there, and a lot of people will focus on it,” said Raider coach Rick Nault. “But we were up two with the ball with 40 seconds left.”
Nault was quick to praise his defense in the second half, as quick as he was to bury it in the first half.
St. John’s put up 43 in the first half, with Judson netting 20 of them. Central had given up 50 and 56 in its first two tourney victories.
“We had a team goal set at holding him to 35 for the game. They torched us,” said Nault, noting that number was eclipsed early in the second quarter.