HAGERSTOWN — For a few seconds on Sunday afternoon, Gavin Rajahpillay looked like a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Rajahpillay launched a 50-foot Hail Mary shot from the backcourt that hit glass and went through the twine to give St. Maria Goretti a stunning 54-53 victory over Loyola Blakefield, giving the Gaels a second straight Baltimore Catholic League win.
Goretti (10-6, 2-5) snapped a 47-game BCL losing streak on Friday with a win over Mount Carmel.
Goretti was staring at defeat after blowing a 44-34 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Suddenly, the Gaels trailed 52-47 with three minutes remaining.
Yannick Zanfack and Rajahpillay had buckets to cut it to 52-51 before Dan Vigus made only 1 of 2 free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining to move Loyola to a 53-51 lead.
“(Martin) Geben got me the ball and I knew I had one dribble, maybe two,” said Rajahpillay. “I looked up, let it go and didn’t think it would be good. I knew the ball would get there, but wouldn’t go in.”
It did and suddenly the senior guard was immersed in a celebration with teammates and fans.
Rajahpillay saw the BCL losses begin to mount up for the varsity in his first three years at Goretti, two as a JV player and the third as a member of the varsity.
“It makes you hungrier to compete,” said Rajahpillay. “You approach every game the same and you try to learn to win. After Friday’s game, I told my teammates I was happy we broke the streak as a team.”
Geben, who led Goretti with 14 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter to give the Gaels a 33-28 lead. Tyrus Fleetwood, who struggled shooting early, hit a 3-pointer and Rajahpillay two buckets to give the Gaels the 44-34 lead.
“We might have taken the lead for granted some,” said Rajahpillay. “We started not doing the things we did earlier.”
Loyola (9-7, 1-3) went on a 10-0 run and tied it at 44-all on three free throws by Mitch Cross before Geben hit a 3-pointer for Goretti.
The Dons responded to take a 52-47 lead before the Gaels woke up. Loyola also missed 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute.
“Credit Loyola for coming back,” said Goretti coach Amrit Rayfield. “We played about 20 minutes of good basketball in the middle and they took advantage in coming back.”
Zanfack added 10 points for Goretti and Jordan Floyd led Loyola with 15 points.
St. Maria Goretti 54, Loyola Blakefield 53
LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD (9-7, 1-3)
Cross 9, Dunn 8,, Floyd 15, Janoskie 5, Vigus 13, Bradley 3. Totals 19 11-17 53.
ST. MARIA GORETTI (10-6, 2-5)
Proctor 6, Fleetwood 7, Geben 14, Zanfack 10, Rajahpillay 9, Blake 8. Totals 21 5-5 54.
Loyola 14 12 8 19 — 53
Goretti 11 16 15 12 — 54
3-point goals — Loyola 4 (Cross, Dunn 2, Vigus); Goretti 7 (Proctor 2, Fleetwood, Rajahpillay, Geben 2, Blake).