The jump shot Burrillville’s Ben Girard made late in Friday’s game at Warwick Vets wasn’t the most famous shot he hit last week. On Tuesday, Girard made a three-quarter court heave at the halftime buzzer against Juanita Sanchez, and video of the play was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
But the Friday shot will certainly stick with Vets a little more.
With a defender in his face, Girard rolled in the shot from the top of the key to give the Broncos a 43-42 lead with 1:19 left. Vets didn’t score again and Burrillville won 45-42.
“That was a huge shot,” said Burrillville coach Kevin Randall. “It’s been a big week for him. We were worried about distractions and having a letdown, but we found a way to dig it out.”
The victory was the fifth straight for the Broncos, who improved to 9-5.
For Vets, which fell to 4-10, it was another frustrating loss. In the last two weeks, the ’Canes have posted important wins over Scituate and Mount St. Charles – but they’ve also lost winnable games to Davies and now Burrillville.
“We beat a good Scituate team and then we lost to Davies,” said head coach Chris LeBlanc. “This was a winnable game and it was close all the way through. I think the kids are happy that it was close but they wanted to win. We couldn’t get over the hump. It’s something you have to expect when you’ve got a young team.”
Both teams struggled mightily from the field in the early going of Friday’s game, combining for just 18 points in the first 12 minutes. But Vets caught fire late in the half, converting five turnovers into a 10-0 run. The ’Canes went to the break leading 19-14.
Early in the second half, it looked like the ’Canes would stay in control. They weathered a 6-0 burst from the Broncos and took a 26-22 lead when Will Remak buried a pull-up three with 9:46 left.
Soon after, it was Burrillville’s turn to heat up. David Reynolds scored down low with 9:35 left, touching off a 10-0 run for the Broncos. Vets missed four shots and had a turnover in that span.
The Broncos led 32-26.
“The biggest key was we stopped trading buckets with them – we were scoring and we were getting stops defensively,” Randall said. “We know they have some shooters. We knew that coming in, and we knew we had to get some stops. We started hitting the shots and getting the stops. That stretch when we were getting stops defensively – that was the difference.”
The ’Canes still didn’t back down. A three by Remak with 4:19 left made it a three-point game, and Burrillville committed turnovers on its next three possessions. The ’Canes only took advantage of the last one, with Danny Greaves scoring in the post to make it a one-point game.
After a bucket by Reynolds, Carter Thomas hit a pull-up 15-footer to make it 41-40. Remak then intercepted a bad pass and pushed it ahead to Scott Camara, who finished a layup to give Vets a 42-41 lead with 1:55 left.
Unfortunately for the ’Canes, that was the end of the line. With the shot clock running down on Burrillville’s next possession, Girard dribbled to the circle, got off a tough shot and watched it rattle in for the 43-42 lead.
“At halftime, we said weather the storm,” Randall said. “It’s a tough road game but we just had to keep executing. We did and we hit some big shots down the stretch.”
The ’Canes couldn’t match those shots. Tim Hogan missed a tough shot in the lane on Vets’ next trip. After a miss by the Broncos, Vets committed a turnover with 29 seconds left.
Reynolds gave Vets new life when he missed an early shot on Burrillville’s next possession, but Thomas had a leaner in the lane blocked with 11 seconds left. Steven McCormack then hit a layup on the press break with three seconds left to make it 45-42.
Camara’s half-court heave at the buzzer caromed off the rim.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” LeBlanc said. “They had that run and we didn’t. We had a couple of good shots, but we missed those shots.”
Remak led all scorers with 13 points, Thomas scored 10 and Kyle Agin tallied eight. Greaves had six and Camara had five off the bench.
Reynolds led a balanced Burrillville attack with 12 points, and Isaiah DeSilva scored 10.
The ’Canes will try to get back on track this week, but it won’t be easy. They’ll visit unbeaten North Smithfield tonight before taking on Toll Gate, who’s 8-6.
“We’re trying to scratch out wins any way we can,” LeBlanc said.