EAST GRANBY >> What a dagger by the East Windsor High boys basketball team.
The Panthers scored five points in the final 22 seconds including a 30-foot three-point shot from freshman Marcus Goss that banked in off the backboard at the buzzer to lift East Windsor to a 57-54 victory over Canton in the championship game of the 43rd NCCC Tournament Thursday night.
It looked like the game was going to overtime when Canton turned the ball over with 2.8 seconds remaining. But the Panthers called a quick timeout.
Senior A.J. Ouimet inbounded the ball to Goss, who quickly took off upcourt. He let the ball fly from about 30 feet away and banked the ball off the backboard and into the net to fuel a wild celebration among the Panthers, who won the tournament for the second in three seasons.
Two years ago, East Windsor beat Granby in overtime to win the NCCC Tournament.
“I was thinking please go in, please go in, please go in,” Goss said. “I was so happy I could help my team win.”
Goss scored 15 points, including six straight at one point early in the fourth quarter, and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“He’s been playing here and there and tonight he had the opportunity to play and he got some great minutes and played well,” East Windsor coach Mike Barile said. “He’s the fastest player on the court, he got the ball and got the shot off.”
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Goss scored six consecutive points for East Windsor (17-7) to give the Panthers their largest lead of the game, 40-34, with 7:12 left in the game. But Canton, which won a triple overtime game on Tuesday night to beat league co-champion Classical, took the lead with a 10-1 run.
Cameron Burke drained a pair of three-point shots, Ethan Burke drove to the basket and Rieley Hoffman did the same and the Warriors had a 44-41 lead with 4:44 remaining.
East Windsor quickly took the lead again when Ouimet scored on a fast break and Johan Gil-Guerro drained a three-pointer.
With 1:26 remaining in the game, East Windsor senior guard Tristin Givins sank two free throws to tie the game at 52-52. With 50 seconds left, Burke put up an underhanded shot and scored to give Canton a 54-52 advantage.
With 22 seconds left, Givins got a key rebound off a miss from Goss in the lane and scored to tie the game at 54-54. Canton called timeout with 14.7 seconds remaining but when the Warriors ran the play there was a miscommunication and a turnover with 2.8 seconds left on a bad pass.
The idea was to get the ball to Givins, who could race up the sideline and try to make a play. But it went to Goss. “I told him to get the ball and attack,” Barile said. “Either pass it or shoot it and he shot it. I couldn’t believe it went in. I was stunned.”
So were the Warriors, now 16-7. “The kids have nothing to hand their heads about,” Canton coach Craig Archambault said. “They lost on a half court bank shot.”
Lange led all scorers with 18 points, including three 3-point shots. Burke had 11 points and Azon Click had eight off the bench, including a pair of three point shots.
Givins led East Windsor with 16 points while Ouimet added 12 and Gil Guerro scored 10.
“We talked in the locker room whether we won or lost, we were already winners by getting to this game,” Barile said. “It’s not something every kid gets to do. It’s probably the last time in your life that a bunch of people will be cheering for you (playing basketball) and going nuts. So, just enjoy it and play to the best of your ability.”
Canton led by three at halftime, 23-20 but the Panthers came out quickly in the third quarter with Ouimet quickly nailing a jumper from the corner and Givins driving to the basket for two points in the first minute.
East Windsor, the seventh seed in the tournament, won four games to capture the NCCC Tournament for the fourth time. They beat Enfield, 57-49 in the first round, topped Suffield in the quarterfinals, 54-37 and outlasted league co-champion SMSA in double overtime in the semifinals, 63-60.
“We’ve been up and down all season but I told the kids that if we play to our abilities, we can play with anyone,” Barile said. East Windsor has won its last six games.
Canton was looking for its first-ever NCCC Tournament title. They are now 0-4 in the championship game.
Both teams will be playing in next week’s Class S tournament with Canton hosting Putnam and the Panthers hosting Capital Prep on Monday.
The All-Tournament consisted of Lange and Hoffman from Canton and Givens, Gil-Guerro and Goss from East Windsor. In the consolation game, SMSA beat Classical, 46-34 with 10 points each from Rohen Bennett and Eli Bianco. Khaud Wells had 11 for Classical.
East Windsor 57, Canton 54
At East Granby
East Windsor (17-7) 7 13 18 19 — 57
Canton (16-7) 4 19 11 20 – 54
East Windsor (57) Marcus Goss 6-2-15, Chris Patenaude 0-0-0, Tristin Givins 6-2-16, A.J. Ouimet 5-2-12, Dejoir Farley 1-0-2, Johan Gil Guerro 4-0-10, Tyrell Hudson 0-2-2. Totals 23-8
Canton (54) Rieley Hoffman 3-0-6, Azon Click 3-0-8, Luke Brown 1-0-2, Jake Schaetzel 4-1-9, Ethan Burke 4-3-11, Cameron Lange 6-3-18, Cam Neeley 0-0-0, Adam Eytan 0-0-0. Totals 21-7
Three-point goals: Gil-Guerre (EW) 2, Givins (EW) 2, Goss (EW), Click (C) 2, Lange (C) 3
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