Last Wednesday’s consolation game at the Warwick Beacon/Citizens Bank Holiday Classic didn’t go exactly the way Warwick Vets planned.
But the last few seconds went exactly how the ’Canes drew it up.
Sophomore Scott Camara buried a three pointer as time expired to give Vets a dramatic 73-72 victory over cross-town rival Pilgrim, the team’s first victory of the season.
“Sometimes it’s not pretty but we’ll take it,” said Vets head coach Chris LeBlanc. “That last play – that’s the way we drew it up.”
Camara’s buzzer-beater capped off a wild last three minutes.
Thanks to 27 points from senior Dom Malaga, the ’Canes led most of the way and thought they had put the game out of reach when they went up by seven on a Will Remak three with 3:15 left.
But Pilgrim soon came to life. Ryan Morris hit a hook shot with 2:13 left, and a Cole Furney steal then led to a three by Charles Johnston, making it 67-65 with 2:04 left. After another Vets turnover, Morris scored inside to tie the game, and Furney gave the Pats the lead with a runner on their next possession.
Vets got within a point when Carter Thomas hit one of two free throws. Pilgrim then missed a shot, and Remak was fouled when Vets got the ball. He missed both free throws, but on the rebound, the teams scrambled and Vets ended up with possession on the jump ball. Four seconds later, Remak banked in a short jumper to put Vets up 70-69.
The Pats, who had trailed by as many as 10, predictably weren’t done. With 13 seconds left, Charles Johnson drained a three from the wing to put his team up 72-70.
That’s when Vets delivered the heroics. Camara caught a pass on the right wing, released the shot with time ticking down and watched it swish through the net.
“The last play was a planned three,” LeBlanc said. “That was our plan – cut baseline and kick it out.”
Ideally, the ’Canes wouldn’t have needed the buzzer beater, but they’d been unable to put Pilgrim away. LeBlanc hopes the late-game drama can be a spark. The ’Canes are now 1-6 overall.
“Hopefully it’s a springboard for better things,” he said. “Recently, we’ve been lacking some chemistry. We can play and we’ve played well in spurts. We’ve got to pull our spurts together.”
As for Pilgrim, head coach Mike Batalon was pleased with his team’s repeated comeback attempts. Morris led the way with 16 points, Pimental had 15 and Brendan Rix scored 12.
“I’m very proud of our effort tonight,” Batalon said. “It was an up-and-down, physical game, back-and-forth. We were down seven late in the game, and I’m real proud of my guys for coming back.”
Pilgrim dropped to 1-7 with the loss, but Batalon hopes the bright spots on display Wednesday can be sustained as the team heads into league play.
“We’re going through some growing pains,” Batalon said. “We make mistakes. But I think this kind of effort is going to help us be successful.”