Cardinal Dougherty trailed for the majority of last night's game against North Catholic, and the visiting Cardinals nearly let the game slip away after finally establishing a lead late.

Thanks to a spectacular second-half performance by sophomore Zaahir Allen and a pair of clutch buckets by senior Sean Williams, Cardinal Dougherty held on for a 59-55 win in Catholic League North Division action.

Allen finished with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor. He scored 15 of his 21 points after halftime.

"I had to step it up and get our team the win," Allen said.

Cardinal Dougherty (4-4 overall, 1-0 division) took its first lead after Allen hit a driving layup in traffic with 5 minutes, 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The next three minutes produced nip-and-tuck basketball, with North Catholic (4-3, 0-1) climbing back on top behind sophomore Bob Makor's jumper with 2:28 remaining. The lead switched hands twice, as Williams snuck behind the defense and sank a wide-open lay-in to give the Cardinals a 56-55 advantage.

Williams would hit another uncontested layup with 11.8 seconds left to ice the game for the Cardinals.

"Everybody made great decisions, from the inbounds [pass] all the way to finishing the layup," Williams said of the two set plays. He finished with 13 points.

Velton Jones' 14 points paced North Catholic, which led, 30-20, at intermission. The Falcons, however, were unable to contain Allen in the third quarter. He scored seven consecutive to spark a 12-5 Dougherty run, trimming North's lead to two with 3:47 left in the third.

"We had opportunities before the end to close it out," Dougherty coach Mike Heimerdinger said. We are "a young team. We're going to go through that, but we practiced those situations . . . and therefore we expected to execute them in the game."

Cardinal Dougherty 7 13 20 19 - 59

North Catholic 18 12 13 12 - 55

CD: Zaahir Allen 21, Sean Williams 13, Isiah Mason 4, Brandon Savage 5, Jahkeem Bogans 12, Ryan Fitch 4.

NC: Velton Jones 14, Woody Redding 5, Lenny Young 10, Mike Terry 11, Bob Makor 3, Shahid Paulhill 2, Josh Stevens 7, Rakeem Christmas 3.