EASTHAM ─ It was a victory for the ages at Nauset High School last Friday when the Warriors clawed their way back to hand the Falmouth Clippers only their second loss of the season in a thrilling 65-64 victory that came down to a well-placed pair of free throws and one timely intercepted pass.
In the final moments of the Jan. 27 game, with seconds left on the clock and the Warriors still trailing by four, Jeremy Poyant sent up a three-pointer that seemed to move in slow motion before sinking through the hoop, narrowing Falmouth's lead to just one point.
With less than 10 seconds left, Chad Edwards took it to the hoop, sending fans into a frenzy when he drew a foul. Edwards' first free throw tied the game at 64-all. Would he make the second? Yes, but then the ball fell back into Clipper control, which meant the Warriors had to do whatever it took to prevent them from scoring.
It turned out that what it took was a stellar end-game grab by Spencer Jones, who joined his team in exuberant cheering as Falmouth was left stunned. After all, the Warriors had come into the final frame with a seemingly insurmountable 13-point deficit only to rally back to claim the win.
All eyes had initially been on starting junior Charlie Campbell, who was celebrated prior to tipoff for netting his 1,000th career point, which he did back in December when the Warriors defeated Easthampton.
After the brief ceremony, Campbell set straight to work battling a formidable Falmouth defense, which held Campbell to just one three-pointer in the first quarter. But while Campbell struggled to close in on the hoop, Jeremy Poyant seized his chances, sinking six for his team in the first.
Unfortunately for the home team, the game's first half was a challenge that saw the visiting Clippers take a 34-26 lead into the break. A trio of three-pointers from Edwards was the highlight of the third quarter, but it wasn't enough to allow Nauset to overtake Falmouth, which held a commanding 51-38 edge after three.
Then came the final frame and a surge of Warrior determination, mostly from Campbell, who went on to score 16 of his 24 overall points in the quarter, including a nice tri for the home team. Poyant, meanwhile, added two three-pointers, including the one that edged Nauset closer to victory, with Edwards also netting a three-pointer, along with those two crucial free throws.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history, with the Warriors lifted to an overall record of 6-4 as hopes for a tourney gig rose. Along with Campbell's 24 overall points were an additional 17 by Edwards, 12 by Poyant, five from Abdel Talabi, and two from Bobby Joy.
Head coach John McCarthy was thrilled with the win. He said he told his team not to rush things in the final minutes.
“I just kept telling them to stay the course, execute our offense, and if [they could] just take one play at a time, we could go on a 6- or 8-0 run in two minutes,” McCarthy said. “And we did. We hit some huge threes because they were really focusing on Charlie most of the game, so Chad and Jeremy were able to get some really great open threes.”
McCarthy said the win was big in terms of fueling his team's drive for a post-season spot.
“This could really catapult us the rest of the year,” he said. “I really think it's one of those wins.”
McCarthy was especially pleased that his team kept up the fight throughout the game and gave kudos to Poyant, Edwards, and Campbell, and Talabi for his stellar defense.
“I'm just really excited for the boys. They didn't quit,” he said.
Next up for the team are two travel games against two more ACL opponents. At press time (Jan. 30) the Warriors were set to travel to D-Y, with a Feb. 2 game against Sandwich to follow.