Toll Gate edged the Bishop Hendricken Hawks 35-32 on Wednesday afternoon during an exciting unified basketball clash at Toll Gate High School.
Toll Gate’s Adam Celona led all scorers with 10 points, while RJ Robitaille, a sophomore guard, topped the Hawks with nine points.
“That was a really good game,” Titans head coach Lonna Razza said. “Right down to the wire.”
Toll Gate was prepared for the always talented Hawks and it showed.
“I kind of told our team, I said, Hendricken’s a pretty strong team,” Razza explained. “You guys have to be ready to go. Be focused, and it’s going to be a faster game than you’re normally used to. And they stepped up and did the job.”
The Hawks started the game with back-to-back jumpers from Aidan Lawton and Jaiden Batista. Then, Toll Gate answered when Celona buried a jump shot and pulled the Titans within 4-2.
The Titans took their first lead when John Beaulieu banked in a deep 3-pointer with 9:11 left in the half and put Toll Gate up 9-8. Then, Nico Doyle made a layin and increased the Titans edge to three.
Two minutes later, the Titans took a 15-10 lead when Celona sank a baseline jumper.
But then, Hendricken’s William Robinson hit a bank shot while in traffic and that jumpstarted an 8-2 Hawks run, and gave Hendricken an 18-17 advantage with 2:39 remaining in the half.
With 21 seconds left in the half, Hendricken’s Batista stole the ball from Mackenzie Walsh and dished to Stephen Baker for a breakaway layup, which gave Hendricken a 21-17 lead at the break.
The Titans knotted the score at 23, one minute and 46 seconds into the second half, after two buckets from Celona, and one from Joseph Rosati.
Then, Toll Gate went on a 6-0 spurt and took a 29-23 lead with 11:13 to play.
Hendricken answered that with back-to-back buckets from Robitaille and pulled within two.
But, a put back from Toll Gate’s Quincy Boucher bought the Titans some breathing room at 31-27.
Then, with 6:49 remaining, Robitaille made a breakaway layup, plus a free throw, and got Hendricken within 31-30.
That’s when Toll Gate’s Boucher responded with a runner off the glass, which put the Titans on top 33-30.
Hendricken’s Baker, answered with a basket down the other end and pulled the Hawks within 33-32 with 4:27 left.
Then, with 2:45 remaining, Toll Gate got a jumper from Jacob Rosati and went back up by three.
Hendricken’s Joshua Tucker tried for a 3-pointer after that, but he missed the mark and Toll Gate’s Michael Negri corralled the rebound with 1:53 remaining.
The Hawks were able to get a couple more stops on defense after that, but Hendricken’s Gianluca Brosco missed a pair of 3-point attempts while the time ticked away and the Hawks would come up shy.
“It was a good fight,” Hendricken’s Lawton said. “They had a good day. And we played well, and we lost, but we had a good day too. We’ll try and win next time.”
“It got intense there in the last bit of the game,” Hendricken’s Michael Castelli added. “Both teams were playing really well. We kept the intensity up, but Toll Gate came out on top. But good job to both teams.”
Toll Gate improves its regular season record to 2-1 with the win and hosts Coventry next on Wednesday at 3:30 pm.
“I am very proud of them,” Razza said. “They worked very well together as a team today. So, I’m starting to see good things happen.”
And Razza is confident that her squad can beat the Hawks if they meet again come postseason.
“Absolutely,” Razza said. “I mean, now with this under their belt, they’ll have the confidence to know that they can beat any team out there if they put their minds to it, and play really well, and play together.”
The Hawks fall to 1-2 on the season with the loss and host Pilgrim on Wednesday afternoon.
“It was a very fast paced game,” Hendricken head coach Allison Manning said. “So, we have to work on a few things for our next practice and hope to come back with another victory for our next game.”