Leyden has prided itself on forcing turnovers this season. Heading into Tuesday night's game against Maine West, Leyden had done plenty of it, as its opponents had committed over 22 turnovers per game.
Leyden had forced just 12 turnovers until the final 30 seconds of this game, but came up with two big ones down the stretch to force overtime against Maine West. Leyden then got another key turnover in overtime as the Eagles bounced Maine West 49-42 in Franklin Park.
"We talked at halftime that we weren't getting the turnovers we normally get," Leyden coach Bill Heisler said. "And I think you just have to stick with just what you do. We eventually grinded and wore them down and came up with those big turnovers at the end."
Leyden (14-6) trailed 40-39 when Jayqual Jackson come up with a steal and then was fouled shooting. Jackson converted 1 free throw to tie the game at 40-40.
"This one is hard," Maine West coach Erik McNeill said. "I thought we did a lot of good things to earn the victory. We had the lead with the ball and I thought we had the right people in at the right positions. Leyden just wanted it more on that possession. And they made the play."
Maine West (12-12) played for the last shot, but Omar Lozoya stripped the ball in the paint. Jackson then missed a shot at the buzzer to end regulation.
Leyden was able to take a 44-40 lead as Jonathon Woolf (12 points), playing with a 101-degree fever, converted 4 free throws in two different trips to the line. Anthony Gonzalez then came up with a steal and a basket and the Eagles were on their way.
"My team was looking for me tonight," said Gonzalez, who finished with a game-high 19 points. "I have to help out my team.
"I knew I had to step up tonight with Woolf being sick. I don't know how he even played."
Joel Ferraren and sophomore Matt Acevedo, who was just called up on Tuesday to earn his first varisty start, each had 11 points to lead Maine West. Matt Finnander had 9 points and 9 rebounds for the Warriors.
Maine West went on a 10-0 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter to lead 38-33 with 5:57 to play. But the Warriors could manage only one basket down the stretch.
"We just aren't there yet," McNeill said. "It's what separates the good teams from the great teams."