NEW HAVEN >> The Career boys basketball team hit just one 3-pointer against Wilbur Cross Monday night. It ended up being the game’s most important shot.
Jordan Lomax buried the 3 with under 3 minutes left to give Career a cushion it never relinquished.
The 10th-ranked Panthers remained undefeated, winning on the Governors’ home floor 65-55 in front of a sellout crowd. It was the SCC Oronoque Division opener for both teams.
“I was waiting for it the whole game,” Lomax said. “I told myself, ‘I have to hit this one.’”
It was the second straight game Career (3-0) came from behind in the fourth quarter to win. In its previous game on Dec. 21, Career forced overtime, then beat Bunnell on the Bulldogs’ home floor to win the SWC Tip-Off Tournament.
The Panthers didn’t need an extra session on Monday. After Lomax’s 3-pointer put the visitors up 57-53 with 2:45 left. Mike Judkins hit two free throws to cut the deficit to two for the Governors (2-2) with 2:13 left.
Cross never scored another point.
“We were able to get a win against a really good team,” Career coach Larry Kelley said. “Guys didn’t make as many mistakes as they did against Bunnell. Down the stretch, I like what they did. I don’t think they did it in a timely fashion. My mustache is a little grayer now, but they got it done.”
With 1:09 left and Career ahead 58-55, Judkins fouled Tyreek Perkins on a drive to the basket. Then he picked up a technical foul, which ended up fouling him out of the game. Perkins hit four straight free throws to put Career up 62-55.
“They did a great job in maintaining their composure,” Cross coach Kevin Walton said about the Panthers. “As a team, coaching staff and players, we need to be able to maintain our composure. At the end of the day, those two technical fouls (the other on the Cross bench midway through the fourth quarter) hurt.”
Career has predominantly been a zone team under Kelley, but on Monday, the Panthers played man-to-man defense the entire game. They kept the Governors’ top two players from doing any damage in the second half.
Josh Fleming had 16 points, but scored just five in the final 16 minutes, while Chan Williams-Bey was held scoreless in the second half.
“It’s no secret. Every day we preach the fact that teams will try to take Josh away and teams are going to try to take Chan away and make other people beat us,” Walton said. “We need some more people to be consistent. We have a lot of work to do. When you lose games, it exposes your flaws and we are a very flawed team.
“We are not going to make excuses that it is the officiating. That is an old story. At the end of the day, you are going to lose the game when you miss free throws (14), when you turn the ball over and when you give up offensive rebounds. I have to do a better job of preparing us in practice for these games.”
Perkins and Matt Hamilton each had 15 points to lead Career.