At Hermon, Julian Diggs scored a career-high 31 points and Devin Peters scored five crucial points in the game’s final minute as the Lee Academy boys basketball team held off Hermon 60-58 on Thursday night.
Lee’s second win of the season over Hermon improves the Class C Pandas’ record to 10-4, while the Class B Hawks fall to 6-7.
Lee took a 41-33 lead into the fourth quarter, but 3-pointers by Eric Hoogterp and Jacob Rioux helped rally Hermon within 43-41 less than three minutes into the final period.
The Hawks got within one point on four different occasions, the final time at 53-52 on two free throws by Tyler Thayer with 1:11 remaining.
After each team took a timeout and nearly 20 seconds had elapsed Peters, a 5-foot-8 junior guard whose offensive output to that point had been limited to a second-quarter 3-pointer, received an inbounding pass along the right wing and suddenly drove past Rioux to the basket, inducing a foul as he made the reverse layup and then making the free throw to give Lee a 56-52 cushion with 42.4 seconds left.
Thayer banked in a runner to make it a two-point game with 31 seconds left, but Diggs countered with a Rondo-like high floater from about 10 feet out to restore Lee to a 58-54 edge with 14 seconds remaining.
Rioux again pulled Hermon within two points by making two free throws, but Peters was sent back to the line with 7.9 seconds left and made two free throws of his own to give Lee a 60-56 edge.
Thayer hit two free throws with 3.4 seconds left to pull Hermon within 60-58, and the Hawks nearly stole the subsequent inbounding pass only for it to deflect out of bounds off the hands of a Hawk.
Lee successfully inbounded the ball to Peters, who was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3.0 seconds left, but after Hermon’s Fritz Marseille rebounded the miss the Hawks were left with a desperation shot from just inside the midcourt stripe that came up short.
Diggs made 14 of his 28 field-goal attempts en route to his game-leading scoring performance, while junior forward Cherif Fall scored 11 points to help make up for the loss of 6-foot-6-inch center Steven Ma, who suffered an ankle injury early in the game and did not return to action.
Thayer scored 12 of his team-high 22 points during the fourth quarter to help fuel the late Hermon comeback, while Hoogterp added 20 points — including five 3-pointers.
Rioux added nine points for the Hawks, six during the final period.
Three fast-break layups by Diggs — one off a steal — helped Lee grab a 13-11 lead at the end of the first period. The senior guard added eight points in the second period to help the Pandas extend their lead to 31-22 against a Hermon team that was having difficulty generating offense against the taller Lee front line that included the 6-5 Fall and 6-9 sophomore Brad Kong, who was seeing extended duty in Ma’s absence.
Hermon hung around early in part thanks to its 3-point shooting, but found success during the third quarter by working the ball inside and then passing it back out for open perimeter shots.
Yet while Hawks twice were able to cut their deficit to five points, they were unable to put together enough of run in the period to make a more permanent dent in Lee’s lead as Diggs scored his team’s final four field goals of the period to restore the Pandas to an eight-point cushion.