DiClemente drove into the lane, pulled up and hit an eight-foot shot which put the Crusaders up 50-49. Barrington missed two shots from under the hoop with less than 10 seconds to play. Prout got a free throw and played stellar defense to the end which left both teams with a 10-4 record.
“I expected it to come down to the wire,” said Prout coach Jed O’Malley. “We got the stops. We got some layups and we grinded it out. It wasn’t pretty, but especially on the road, I’ll take it. I’m just happy we were fortunate to get the win.”
Barrington, which had won four home games by eight points or less and dropped three other games by six points or less, unfortunately suffered its fourth close defeat.
“It’s a tough loss,” Barrington coach Patrick Sullivan said. “The sad thing is we usually win those games. We’ve been able to pull out some close games in the last four minutes. This game we couldn’t do it.”
Sullivan was almost spot on with his four-minute comment. The Barrington offense went stagnant with exactly 3:49 left in each half. The Eagles were 1-for-4, their lone hoop a steal and layup by Corey Daugherty, with four turnovers to close the opening half. More importantly, Barrington missed all five shots and turned the ball over twice to end the game.
“We were up 49-45. We had a turnover and a quick ill-advised shot when we had a four-point lead,” said Sullivan. “They ended up going ahead. We had some opportunities toward the end to score but we couldn’t take advantage of it. That’s the way it is.”
Barrington built the largest lead of the game in the opening half when it went up eight points on a pair of free throws from Nicholas Raymond with 3:49 left. Prout scored eight straight to tie the game before Daugherty’s pilfer and hoop gave the Eagles a slight lead heading into the locker room.
“We were up 24-16 in the first half and they went on an 8-0 run to tie it up,” Sullivan said. “There was a two- to three-minute period of basketball where we turned the ball over and got careless, had some breakdowns defensively and they were able to tie it up.
“Then we hit a shot and were up by two. So instead of going into halftime up six or eight we were only up two and they had momentum at that point.”
Prout gained its largest lead of the game 8:32 into the second half when Erik Ramieka drained a three from the top of the key for a 40-36 advantage. Barrington countered with a 9-2 run, six free throws from Daugherty and a three from Jesse Brown, to grab a 45-42 lead. The Crusaders evened it at 45 before Kevin Mannix sank two free throws and Ben Coogan scored from underneath for a 49-45 Barrington lead.
Turnovers and missed shots marred the next two minutes. Prout missed two three-point tries but got the ball back both times leading to Doug Buonanno’s deep three from the left corner to make it a one-point game with 1:54 left. The Crusaders had a 37-27 rebound edge.
“Buonanno hit a huge three in the corner to bring them to within one,” said Sullivan. “They were able to kind of kill us a little on the boards offensively. Even the shot by Buonanno late came off a second rebound.”
Following a Prout timeout Barrington missed a three, Prout’s DiClemente was called for an offensive foul on the go-ahead basket and the Eagles missed another jumper. Then DiClemente hit his clutch shot to give the Crusaders the lead.
“We shot a couple quick threes because we struggled against their 2-3 zone,” O’Malley said. “They packed it in and gave us problems. Then Chris DiClemente was able to make a big shot down the stretch.”
Barrington worked the ball around and the clock ticked under 10 seconds before the Eagles attacked. A tough shot in traffic missed and a putback in a crowd was off the mark before Prout snared the rebound. The Eagles had two fouls to give before Prout reached the bonus situation and did so. Ramieka went to the line and missed and Barrington’s Raymond got the rebound and a timeout.
The Eagles tried a length-of-the-court pass which no one touched and went out of bounds. Prout got the ball under its own basket, put it in play and Ramieka was fouled. He made the first shot, missed the second and Barrington’s Jared Silk got the rebound and another timeout with one second. The ensuing inbound pass was picked of near midcourt as the final buzzer sounded.
“My guys executed well defensively down the stretch,” O’Malley said. “They kept guys in front of them. I was very pleased what they did defensively. We knew we had to play a high-level defensive game. I have a lot of respect for Barrington. We knew we were going to have to play very well to get the win.”
Sullivan said, “I thought the second half was just a grind-it-out basketball game. I thought defensively we played well. Offensively it was a tough game because they played good defense.
“They’re a playoff basketball team the same as us. It’s all about who executes for 32 minutes, who executes at the end who’s going to win. They’re a tough team.”
Daugherty led Barrington with 20 points while Mannix had 15. Browne, who averages 16 points-per-game, was held to seven. Ramieka had 20 to pace Prout and center Justin Bristol had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Prout was 19-for-48 from the floor (40 percent) compared to Barrington’s 16-for-45 (36 percent). The Eagles were better from three-point land (4-for-14, 29 percent) compared to 3-for-17, 17 percent for Prout. Barrington also went 13-for-19 from the free throw line (68 percent) while Prout was 10-for-18 (55 percent). Barrington had a dozen turnovers, three less than Prout.