NORTH HAVEN — It isn’t often that a high school basketball coach puts in a new defense at halftime.
But that’s exactly what North Haven coach Justin Falcon had to do Friday night.
With Platt running in transition throughout the first half and building a 33-14 lead, Falcon drew up a 2-3 on the blackboard at halftime that worked perfectly.
“We really haven’t played it the entire year,” Falcon said after the Indians rallied for a 69-65 double overtime victory in the championship game of the Fred Kelly North Haven Christmas Tournament. “We had to slow them down because they wanted to run in transition. Our guys did a good job of talking and matching up.”
It took almost the entire second half, but North Haven fought back little by little.
“We were chasing the first quarter for over half the game,” Falcon said. “They fought back but hats off to Platt.”
A 13-3 runover 4:36 in the third quarter, finished off by a Michael Collins (17 points) layup pulled North Haven to within 38-34. However, the Panthers turned around and went on a 7-1 run from there to take a 45-35 edge to the final eight minutes.
North Haven (4-2) packed in the zone and used a huge height advantage to keep crawling back, getting to 50-49 with 2:21 to play in regulation on five straight free throws by David Christoforo (18 points).
Platt pushed it back to three points, 54-51 with 1:30 to go in the fourth, but a pair of free throws by R.J. Hagar, (27 points, 25 of them in the second half) closed it back to 54-53.
After Tre Carter hit a free throw with 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Hagar canned a pair of freebies with 33 seconds left to get North Haven tied for the first time all night, at 55-55. Both teams had chances to win it in regulation, but neither was successful.
North Haven took its first lead of the night, 57-55, a little over a minute into the second overtime on a layup by Collins. It remained tight with Platt’s Malcolm Andrews (22 points) canning a layup with 7.7 seconds left to send the game into the second overtime.
The second overtime became the Hagar show as he scored eight of the nine North Haven points, including five free throws. The Indians finally put the game away when Hagar (9 free throws in overtime) hit a free throw with 34 seconds left and Jamore Hooks the capper with one freebie with 21 seconds remaining.
“I have to give it up to R.J.,” Falcon said. “He made a ton of free throws tonight.”
Platt fell to 4-2 with the loss.
“It was tough, but it was hard to execute in the second half with those two giants in the post (Collins and Christoforo),” Platt coach Shawon Moncrief said. “We have to work on (driving the lane) over 32 or 40 minutes.”
In the championship game on the girls’ basketball side, Coginchaug blew a 16-point third quarter lead (41-25) but hung on for 51-49 victory. North Haven’s man-to-man pressure defense helped the Indians send the game into overtime at 46-46 on a Julia Bogen bucket.
“My kids got after it,” North Haven coach Ray Degnan said. “It was a fantastic effort especially with five girls playing the fourth quarter.”
Coginchaug coach Chris Watson said he knew the press was coming.
“I saw North Haven play yesterday and knew coming into the game they did a really good of pressuring the ball,” Coginchaug coach Chris Watson said. “It’s one of those things that happens.”
Coginchaug (6-1) was able to outscore the Indians, 5-3, in the overtime to secure a 51-49 victory.
“We’re still trying to figure ourselves out and it’s part of our growing pains,” Watson said. “I think we’re getting used to the kind of team we are.”
Jessica King led Coginchaug with 17 points, while Kerry Turecek added 15. Laura Petrafesa scored 16 points to pace North Haven (3-3), while Carly Fresher added 10.