||Throughout the second half of the Mercer Tournament championship game, Gabe Dorsey ’21 made a big impact on the scoreboard, scoring 12 points against a resilient Canterbury School team. His largest contribution arguably came on the defensive end of the court, however. After trailing for the entire game, Canterbury had trimmed Hill’s lead to just two-points and had the ball for the final possession of regulation. With time winding down, a Canterbury forward found a lane to the basket and had a clear layup attempt to tie the game. Dorsey emerged seemingly out of nowhere and blocked the shot with less than one second remaining, clinching the nerve-wracking 69-67 victory for Hill.
It is the first time in the tournament’s 49-year history that Hill has won three-consecutive tournament championships. New Hampton was the last school to win the tournament three straight times, winning the 2009, 2010, and 2011 titles.
In the tournament’s first two rounds, Hill defeated Western Reserve 71-45 and Kiski 80-47. It appeared early in the final that Hill was on its way to a third consecutive blowout win as the Blues jumped out to a 16-5 lead, buoyed by hot shooting from Caleb Dorsey ’20, Ryan Moffatt ’19, and Daniel Nixon ’21. Canterbury closed the first quarter on a 6-2 run and pulled to within five early in the second quarter before Hill regrouped and stretched its lead to double digits, entering the locker room with a 35-25 lead at halftime.
Canterbury adjusted its offensive strategy for the second half and began making more shots, gradually chipping away at Hill’s lead. Xavier Mayo ’19 hit a jumper as time expired in the third quarter to give Hill a 53-48 lead entering the final frame, but it was clear that the Blues would need to play eight good minutes of basketball to withstand the oncoming Saints team.
The teams traded buckets early in the fourth quarter, and with just over two minutes remaining Hill called a timeout grasping to a four-point lead, 64-60. Needing a score, the team moved the ball flawlessly, leading to Caleb Dorsey hitting a three to give Hill a seven-point lead. On the next play, Moffatt forced a turnover and passed to Nixon, who converted a layup attempt to put Hill up three possessions.
Then, things became interesting. Hill went cold in the offensive half of the court, missing shots and turning the ball over. Canterbury drained a three with 1:25 remaining to cut Hill’s lead to six. With 1:05 left, Canterbury committed a foul, but as Hill was not in the bonus, the Blues did not go to the free throw line. Off the inbound play, Canterbury forced a turnover under the basket and drew a foul. The Saints hit both ends of the one-and-one, and with 51 seconds remaining Hill’s lead was down to four. Hill broke Canterbury’s press but quickly turned the ball over, and the Saints converted the fast break to suddenly make it a one-possession game.
As a 30-second shot clock has been implemented in high school basketball, Canterbury knew that Hill would need at least one shot attempt over the final 36 seconds and did not foul on the inbound. Hill called timeout with 21 seconds remaining, but struggled again to handle the ball after the timeout and committed another turnover.
Canterbury called timeout with 8 seconds remaining and, coming off the timeout, looked to work the ball inside to play for the tie rather than looking for a three-point shot. Moffatt appeared to steal the ball with 3 seconds remaining, but the official deemed that he kicked the ball to cause the turnover, giving the Saints one more opportunity. A Canterbury forward spun past Mayo and drove the basket, but Dorsey emphatically swatted his finger-roll layup attempt out of bounds with 0.3 seconds remaining. The Saints were unable to get a shot off in time following the inbound, clinching the tense, two-point victory for Hill.
All five Hill starters finished the game with double-digit points, led by Caleb Dorsey with 15. Gabe Dorsey and Moffatt were selected to the All-Tournament team, and Moffatt was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Hill closes out the pre-winter vacation portion of the schedule at Haverford School on Thursday, December 20 in a rematch of the 2018 PAISAA championship game.
Ryan Moffatt - The Hill School (Most Outstanding Player)
Gabe Dorsey - The Hill School
Marlon Short - Canterbury School
Bryan Powell - Canterbury School
Tyler Small - Knox School
Alex Capitano - Episcopal Academy
1) The Hill School
3) Knox School
5) Episcopal Academy
6) Western Reserve Academy