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VIDEO: Eastside earns three-peat with wild win over Wayne Valley
Written by - Saturday, February 27 2016  

Wayne Valley very nearly won its first Passaic County Tournament in boys' basketball with a barrage of three-point shots. But it was a trey by Paterson Eastside in the final minute that made the difference and earned the Ghosts their third straight crown.

Al-Jumu Johnson sank the three-pointer with 30 seconds left after an Eastside steal to put his team ahead. The second-seeded Ghosts then held on in a wild final sequence to pull out the 49-47 triumph.

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It's the 11th county title overall for Eastside, tying Paterson rival Kennedy for the most in tournament history.

Nhazir Smith led the Ghosts with 19 points. Al-Jumu Johnson, who didn't practice all week after suffering a concussion in last week's semifinals, scored 13 points including the game-winning shot.

Lamar Johnson added eight for Eastside and Terra Gatling scored seven points.

Fourth seed Wayne Valley took the lead with a 14-5 second quarter and went up by eight early in the fourth period. Eastside responded with a 9-0 run to grab the lead, but the Indians came back with a trio of three-pointers, with Alex Kokos making the third to put Wayne Valley up 47-44 with just over a minute remaining.

Smith made a key steal and drew a foul, then sank two free throws to cut the lead to one. Moments later, Gatling snatched an errant pass, leading to the go-ahead trey.

Still, Wayne Valley had chances in the final half-minute. The Indians patiently set up a layup opportunity but could not hit the shot. Eastside rebounded, but missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Valley another chance.

With the Ghosts having fouls to give, Al-Jumu Johnson grabbed Kokos as he rushed up the floor. Kokos continued after the whistle and threw up a wild 30-footer, which banked in off the glass. As the fans and Wayne Valley players pleaded for the shot to count, the referees ruled it came after the foul.

Wayne Valley got one last chance, but Eastside trapped Nick Giuliano in the corner and blocked his desperation shot.

Giuliano led the Indians with 23 points, including five three-pointers. Nick Goodwin had 10 points. Kokos and John Zarka scored six apiece, all on three-point shots.

Eastside is now 19-6, while Wayne Valley is 20-4 as both teams head into the state tournament.

For sports video highlights of this New Jersey and Passaic County Tournament high school boys' basketball championship game, click play in the box at left.

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