By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER-- Marblehead boys basketball coach Wayne Hanscom had a feeling Friday’s tilt with Gloucester at the Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse would come down to the final possession.
Hansom’s Marblehead team had the lead for all but nine seconds of Friday’s tilt, but a furious Gloucester comeback in the fourth quarter saw the two young teams take it to the final minute of play. And Hanscom’s feeling would end up being true, as the game was decided on the final possession.
Gloucester thought it had a win secured when senior captain Jason Vizena sunk a layup after a perfect pass from point guard Jeff Oliveria to give Gloucester its first lead of the game at 45-44 with 10 seconds to go.
Marblehead called a timeout to regroup and inbounded the ball to Matt Millet, the team’s leading scorer who was struggling from the field in the second half having missed six straight shots up until that point. Millet, however, would come through when his team needed him most draining an off balance runner off of a drive to his left with .6 seconds to play to lift the Magicians to a 46-45 win.
“I didn’t care how much we were up by, I knew it was coming down to the final possession because it’s always a tough game in Gloucester,” Hanscom said. “Matt’s a lefty so he drove to his left and put the shot up, we were fortunate that he hit it. Gloucester had a nice comeback but we outlasted them.”
Gloucester was playing catchup from the start thanks to an abysmal shooting effort in the first half where the team hit just four of 29 shots from the field. The Fishermen trailed by as much as 13 early (18-5) and by as much as 10 points in the fourth quarter (40-30). Gloucester won the rebounding and turnover battle but that off night shooting made it a moot point.
“We didn’t play well early and it ended up hurting us at the end,” Gloucester head coach Bill Cahill said. “We did some good things again. We fought and fought and fought our way back into the game and then lost it on an off balance runner. It’s a tough loss, it would have been a nice win.”
The Magicians (4-2) took a 22-13 lead into halftime when Gloucester (3-5) began to inch its way back into the game. Gloucester cut the Marblehead lead to four points at 32-38 late in the third but a Spencer Craig three pointer as time expired in the quarter got the Magicians lead back up to seven at 35-28 with one quarter to go.
Marblehead extended that lead to 40-30 when Gloucester’s shots finally started to fall. A Drew Shairs put back with 2:30 to play cut the lead in half at 44-39. On the very next offensive possession Connor Adkins sunk a base line jumper to cut it to three. Another Shairs put back with a minute to go made it 44-43.
The Magicians let Gloucester back into the game on their next two possessions missing four straight shots from the foul line and Gloucester took the lead with 10 seconds to play on Vizena’s layup. That set the stage for Millet’s heroics.
“Once we got into rhythm we looked great,” Cahill said. “We started moving the ball, getting good shots and making those shots. It’s a lesson the team will learn. You have to play your best for all four quarters, you can’t let up at any point in the game.”
Austin Davis led the Gloucester offense with 12 points, 10 of them in the second half. Vizena had 11 points while Adkins and Shairs chipped in 10 each. Shairs was also a force on the glass with 17 rebounds.
Millet led the way for Marblehead with 15 points.