— Mark Wright (@MarkWayneWright) February 23, 2016
CROMWELL >> The Shoreline Conference boys basketball tournament is less than a week away but Cromwell and Coginchaug gave fans a sneak preview Monday night. And it was a barnburner.
Senior Peter Dewey drained a long 3-pointer with just 3.8 seconds left as the Panthers stunned the Blue Devils, 45-44, in front of a huge Senior Night crowd at the Jake Salafia Gymnasium.
“I’m very proud of my kids,” Cromwell coach John Pinone said. “They showed great resiliency. We were down six and people thought we were done. But we hung in there and we got stops. We forced a couple of turnovers. And they missed a few free throws to help our cause.”
Dewey, and fellow seniors Bryson Howard, Sean DelValle, and Terrance Natt were honored before the game. And this was one they’ll remember for a long time.
“I feel good for the seniors because they’ve worked their backsides off for four years,” Pinone added.
The Panthers (17-3) trailed 42-36 with less than a minute to play. While Coginchaug was going just 2-for-8 from the foul-line down the stretch, Cromwell got huge baskets from Natt and Howard, whose spinning layup in the lane cut it to 43-40 with 25 seconds left.
Dewey then came up with a steal and added a pair of free throws to make it 43-42 and after Coginchaug senior Cam Powers made 1-of 2 free throws, Pinone called a timeout.
“It was a shot for Peter but we really didn’t run it right,” Pinone said. “The result looked good, didn’t it?”
Dewey, who finished with a game-high 22 points, came off a screen at the top of the key and buried the game-winning shot a few feet behind the 3-point arc.
“I said to coach, ‘If I had it can I take it?’ And I was feeling it,” Dewey said. “We’ve been playing amazing basketball. Our defense won it. Coach preaches defense all the time.”
Senior forward Kyle Wyskiel had 15 points and Powers added 11 points for the Blue Devils (12-7).
— Mya Villard (@myavillard) February 23, 2016
“We did everything we had to do to win the game tonight,” Coginchaug coach Todd Salva said. “The only thing we didn’t do was make free throws. We got what we wanted, we just didn’t knock then down at the end. I thought we played a heck’uva game. Cromwell’s tough, especially at home.”
Wyskiel drained two treys in the second quarter as the Blue Devils led 25-24 at intermission. A conventional 3-point play from junior Jack Murphy and another trey from Wyskiel helped Coginchaug build a 35-30 lead after three.
“This was a good measuring stick for us in terms of where we can be from now to the Shoreline and state tournaments,” Salva said. “This was a fun basketball game to be a part of.”
The Panthers have won nine straight and 14 of their last 15 games.
“It was a great regular season,” Pinone said. “Our goal was to not lose at home and to get the first round and semis at home in the SLC tourney. I think that’s a big advantage for any team to play at home in the tournament. We’re gong to go one game at a time. There was a lot at stake tonight and I’m very proud of the effort the kids put out at the end.”
CROMWELL 45, COGINCHAUG 44
Coginchaug 10 15 10 9 – 44
Cromwell 13 11 6 15 – 45
Kyle Judson 0 0-0 0, Cam Powers 3 5-10 11, Kyle Wyskiel 5 2-4 15, Jake Sapia 3 0-0 6, Jack Murphy 1 1-1 3, Griffin Murphy 3 0-0 6, Hunter Jameson 1 0-0 3. Totals: 16 8-15 44
Bryson Howard 2 0-1 4, Sean Melavan 3 0-0 6, Sean Devalle 2 1-4 5, Peter dewey 6 6-7 22, Terrance Natt 1 0-0 2, Reese Reyes 2 0-0 4. Totals: 16 7-12 45
3-point goals: Coginchaug 4 (Wyskiel 3, Jameson 1); Cromwell 4 (dewey 4); Records: Coginchaug 12-7; Cromwell 17-3
Notes: Peter Dewey hit a three with 3 seconds left to win the game by 1.