TERRYVILLE — Offense and defense took star turns threatening to win the Berkshire League boys basketball tournament final, but pure grit finally brought Terryville home to its first championship since 2014 in a 54-51 thriller over Shepaug at Terryville High School Friday night.
Stars for both teams came out sizzling in the first quarter as nothing but three-pointers counted for the first five minutes.
Dominick Dao, off to a career-high 24 points, drained the first two for Terryville, with another from Dylan Matulis, whose 19 game points came from four three’s and seven foul shots.
Shepaug’s Owen Hibbard, the Berkshire League scoring champion and Leon Verretto Sportsmanship Award winner, matched Dao’s first trey on his way to 20 points and four three’s for the game.
Michael Perachi, with 18 points in the game, held the spotlight for another three straight 3-pointers for Shepaug and a 12-9 Spartan lead.
The Spartan flame burned to 19-9 by the end of the first quarter on a 7-0 run to the buzzer by Hibbard and Perachi.
But that kind of shooting only lasts in the NBA.
“Hibbard and Perachi were on fire,” Matulis said.
“We just had to keep on working,” Dao said.
The Kangaroo work paid off in a 16-10 Terryville second quarter, drawing the half-time score to 29-25 Shepaug.
The Roos came out of the half in a box-and-one zone with three straight steals and a 32-29 lead on Matulis’ final three-pointer. Hibbard evened the score with another 3, but the Spartans scored just one more point in the quarter as Terryville rampaged to a 45-33 lead into the final period.
Now it was Shepaug’s turn for starring defense. Moving into a full court press, the Spartans played three straight steals into a 47-43 deficit.
Dao, Matulis and Sean O’Donnell pulled Terryville back to a 52-45 lead, but Spartan defense was still in play.
Two more steals brought Shepaug to 52-49. Two Hibbard foul shots with 14 seconds left closed it to 52-51.
With seven seconds left, Matulis was 2-for-2 at the line and one more Spartan turnover meant the championship for the Kangaroos.
“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we’ll take it any way we can,” grinned Terryville coach Mark Fowler.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Shepaug coach Matt Lefevre said.