Eagles win title in double-OT thriller

Unified basketball team wins state title after thrilling comeback and clutch foul shots

By Scott Pickering
Posted 5/8/19

The unified basketball state championship game between Barrington High School and Tiverton High School held as much drama and intensity as an NCAA tournament championship game, and after two …

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Eagles win title in double-OT thriller

Unified basketball team wins state title after thrilling comeback and clutch foul shots

Posted

The unified basketball state championship game between Barrington High School and Tiverton High School held as much drama and intensity as an NCAA tournament championship game, and after two overtimes, unusually physical play and a series of clutch free throws, the Eagles won the title Sunday afternoon.

Played at LaSalle Academy, the game swung back and forth through the second half, as each team clawed back from deficits to keep the game close and ratchet up the intensity.

Barrington led 28-22 at halftime, before Tiverton went on a run dominated by freshman Aidan McCrosson and senior Alex Boucher. McCrosson hit two straight shots to cut the Barrington lead to 2, before Boucher scored the next five times the Tigers had the ball, leading Tiverton to a 36-30 advantage.

Tiverton freshman Matthew Hackett scored the next basket, lifting the Tigers to an eight-point lead, their largest of the game.

Tiverton’s Jessica Sartini and Zachary Landoch also hit baskets for Tiverton, but the Eagles did not back down. Caroline Friedman, Josh Nestell and Ethan Roderick all had key baskets as Barrington cut the Tiverton lead to 2, at 42-40, with 1:12 to play in the game.

After a missed Tiverton shot, Barrington’s Christian Navarro grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. He passed to Nestell, who was fouled while attempting a game-tying layup with 25 seconds left. He was awarded two shots from the foul line.

Before stepping up for the pressure shots, Nestell asked the ref for time and walked over to get a drink of water from the bubbler. With a large crowd of spectators from both sides sitting on the edge of their seats, Nestell saw his first foul shot bounce off the rim. He composed himself, however, and drained the second shot, cutting the Tiverton lead to 1.

On the ensuing possession, the Tigers committed a turnover and the Eagles brought the ball back down the court with a chance to win the game. With the clock ticking down under 5 seconds, sophomore Logan Mitnik drove to the basket and was hit hard on his layup attempt.

With one second left, Mitnik had two foul shots. He missed the first, took a few deep breaths and hit the second, sending the game into overtime.

In the first overtime, Barrington’s Ethan Roderick stole the ball and drove for a layup, but he was fouled. He calmly hit both free throws to give the Eagles a 44-42 advantage.

Tiverton answered, however, with senior Matthew Gracia making a shot to tie the score.

Over the next minute, both teams had chances to push ahead, but neither side could connect, sending the game into a second overtime.

Barrington senior Will Dreier, who had been playing intense defense through the final minutes of the game, got the ball in the paint and hit a short shot to give the Eagles a 46-44 lead. The Tigers missed a couple of chances to tie the game, before the Eagles got the ball in the closing seconds. Christian Navarro dribbled the ball near halfcourt as the final seconds ticked away and the Eagles’ bench erupted in celebration.

The two teams shook hands, and the crowd stood to applaud one of the more intense and exciting unified contests in memory. Final score: Eagles 46, Tigers 44.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.