NEW HAVEN >> Cromwell senior guard Peter Dewey has been making big shots all season, especially from his favorite spot: behind the three-point line. And with the Shoreline Conference championship game still in doubt, Dewey saved his best shot for last.
With Cromwell clinging to a one-point lead against upset-minded Lyme-Old Lyme, Dewey drained a three-pointer with just one minute and six seconds left to give the Panthers their biggest lead of the night at 47-43.
The top-seeded Panthers then held on down the stretch when Dewey made 3 of 4 free throws to escape with a hard-fought 52-48 victory Friday at Wilbur Cross’ Saulsbury Gymnasium. It was Cromwell’s second SLC title in three years and fourth in eight seasons.
“That shows what kind of program that we have,” Cromwell coach John Pinone said. “The mark of a great program is its consistency.”
Dewey buried six 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 23 points.
“I couldn’t be happier for Peter,” Pinone said. “He’s had a terrific last 10 or 12 games where he has just made big shot after big shot. I think he’s number two in the state at making threes. He’s kind of our leader out there and gives us a lot of energy. He’s got some fire to him.”
Senior forward Sean DelValle posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, senior guard Terrance Natt added nine points and senior Bryson Howard had seven points for Cromwell (20-3), which extended its’ winning streak to 12 games. The Panthers have also won 17 of their last 18 contests.
“It feels great,” Howard said. “We’ve been there before. We won it when we were sophomores so it feels good to come back here as seniors and win the championship.”
Senior forward Drake Gavin and junior guard Dean Palenski each had 12 points for the third-seeded Wildcats (16-7), who defeated Cromwell back on Jan. 2.
Old Lyme had two chances to tie the game in the finals seconds. Trailing 51-48, senior guard Matt Watts-St. Germain had a contested 3-point attempt bounce off the rim. The Wildcats were awarded possession when the ball went out of bounds. Gavin, who was voted the SLC Player of the Year, also tried a game-tying trey but the ball bounced high off the rim.
“My kids gave everything they had,” Old Lyme coach Kirk Kaczor said. “They just beat us. They made a few more plays than us at the end. It was a great game. I’m proud of our guys. Cromwell’s an excellent defensive team and it wasn’t easy to get that shot off at the end.”
The game was a thriller from the opening tap with neither team gaining an advantage. Old Lyme’s largest lead was 19-13 early in the second quarter after a Palenski trey.
The Wildcats led 26-24 at halftime. The game see-sawed again in the third quarter before Dewey’s long-range trey gave the Panthers a 34-33 lead after three.
Cromwell took the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter when Howard found Sean Melaven open at the top of the key and Melaven’s 3-pointer gave the Panthers a 40-39 lead.
Howard followed with a pair of free throws and after Wildcats center George Doll(nine points) sank a foul-line jumper, Howard converted in the low post and Cromwell led 44-41 with 1:38 left.
Palenski answered with a pair of free throws to make it 44-43, setting the stage for Dewey’s corner dagger.
Cromwell out-rebounded the Wildcats 24-11 in the second half.
“Winning championships isn’t easy,” Pinone said. “We did just enough to win. We found a way to grind it out. It’s good to win in March than in January.”
CROMWELL 52, LYME-OLD LYME 48
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) March 5, 2016
(at Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven )
Lyme-Old Lyme 12 14 7 15 – 48
Cromwell 8 16 10 18 – 52
LYME-OLD LYME (48)
Dean Palenski 4 3-4 12, Matt Watts-St. Germain 3 0-0 8, George Doll 3 3-3 9, Drake Gavin 4 3-6 12, Josh Turkowski 1 2-3 5, Graham Aird 1 0-0 2 . Totals: 16 11-16 48
Bryson Howard 2 3-6 7, Sean Melaven 1 0-0 3, Sean DelValle 2 6-14 10, Peter Dewey 6 5-6 23, Terrance Natt 3 2-2 9, Anthony Puntiel 0 0-0 0, Will Moore 0 0-0 0, Reese Reyes 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 16-28 50
3-point goals: Old Lyme 5 (Palenski 1, Watts-St. Germain 2, Gavin 1, Turkowski 1); Cromwell 8 (Dewey 6, Natt 1, Melaven 1); Records: Old Lyme 16-7; Cromwell 20-3
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