LAWRENCE — After shadowing Tyler Nelson baseline to baseline for the better part of 32 minutes, St. John’s Prep’s Drex Costello should have been lifeless in the waning seconds of last night’s IAABO Board 130 Classic opener against Central Catholic.
Instead, he was Superman.
With the clock running down and the game knotted at 61-61, Costello corralled a pass, sprinted into the frontcourt, stepped back, rocked, fired and splashed a 28-foot 3-pointer with 6.5 second left to give St. John’s a 64-61 lead and ultimately its second win over the host Raiders this year, 64-62.
“There were a couple defenders around. I just took a dribble left and was feeling it,” said North Andover’s Costello. “I really had no idea how much time was left. I thought it was a buzzer beater.”
For the Prep, that last 6.5 was an eternity — this is Central Catholic after all — and the Eagles found a way to survive … barely. Out of the timeout, Raider coach Rick Nault brought out the old Valparaiso play made famous by Homer and Bryce Drew in the 1998 NCAA tourney upset of Ole Miss.
The Nick Cambio re-direct went perfectly to Tyler Nelson and he looked to hoist the equalizer. Before he could, he was fouled, though.
Nault called for three free throws, thinking Nelson was in the act of shooting. The officials ruled differently, saying the foul was before.
Nelson made one and missed the second intentionally. Raider Joel Berroa got the offensive board, but was stripped of the ball on the way up without a call as time ran out on Central.
For Costello and the Prep, there was elation, a chance to take on Lynn English (tonight, here, 7:15, at Central) for the Board 130 Classic title and an opportunity to lock down the top seed in the Division 1 North tourney.