(Pictures will enlarge)
(Byfield MA) Clutch free throws by CJ Condon and Cole Vuylsteke in the final minute enabled Pentucket to get by Triton, 60-59, on Friday night.
“It was a crazy, crazy game,” said Pentucket coach Ed Hickey afterwards. “It was a tale of two halves.”
The Sachems (3-6) were cooking from long range in the first half draining eight three’s. One by Chase Dwight drew smiles from the surprised Pentucket fans and put the visitors ahead, 32-13. The halftime margin was 36-21.
In the second half, Triton came to life.
“We really tightened up defensively,” recalled Triton coach Ted Schruender.
The Pentucket lead was lessened to nine points by the end of the third quarter (52-43) and then things got very interesting in the final quarter.
The Sachems couldn’t score a point for first five minutes and Triton rallied offensively to even things at 52-52. Sophomore John Prendergast collected the tying basket off a deflected shot.
With 1:20 remaining, John was again in the right place at the right time. This time he turned an offensive rebound into a score and the home team led, 57-54.
CJ Condon (23 points) broke in to score a layup but Ethan Tate responded with two free throws. Triton still had a 3-point lead (59-56) with fifty seconds left.
Pentucket won the game on their next two possessions. They did it with four straight free throws (CJ Condon and Cole Vuylsteke). The Vikings (3-5) had a rebounding foul and a turnover in their last two possessions.
“I missed free throws in the first half,” said CJ Condon post-game. “It felt good to knock them down in the second half.”
The tensest moment belonged to Cole who had not scored a point the entire game. Now, with eighteen seconds left he was at the line, shooting one-and-one, with his team trailing by a point. Cole nailed both shots.
“Cole stepped up and hit some huge free throws for us,” said Coach Hickey.
“We had a great comeback,” said Triton senior Quintin McHale (26 points). “We just couldn’t finish it out.”
“We were down by fifteen at one point and came back and got the lead,” recalled Dylan Wilkinson (20 points) afterwards. “You’ve got to finish it off.”
“I can’t say enough about Dylan Wilkinson and Quintin McHale,” said Pentucket coach Ed Hickey. “They were both amazing.”
A crucial defensive play was turned in by Pentucket’s Chase Dwight in the closing seconds. Quintin got in close to the basket looking to get off a shot or get fouled but Chase was able to force the ball out of bounds instead of fouling Quintin.
Nick Daly (15 points) drew special coverage in the first half. He had five three’s, but foul trouble kept him on the sidelines for many minutes.
“I had a bad game last week and I was ready to play tonight,” said Nick afterwards.
The Sachems ended a four-game losing streak. “This was a much-needed win for us,” said Coach Hickey. “I’m not sure we’ve had our full lineup this year. Tonight, we hung in there and I’m very proud of our guys.”
Last year the same two teams faced off at Byfield and Pentucket came away with a 47-46 win.
“Last year we were winning and let one get away,” recalled Coach Schruender. “This year we made a really nice comeback.”
Both squads had active support in the stands. “I love playing in this environment,” said CJ Condon.
Pentucket 21 15 16 8 = 60
Triton 11 10 22 16 = 59
(The pictures will enlarge.)