Tech foiled at finish against Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT – Elvis Presley would have called this one “Heartbreak Hotel” for Lynn Tech.With 2.3 seconds remaining, Newburyport took advantage of the referees’ decision to add extra time following Tech’s game-tying three-pointer by Victor Smith, which knotted the contest at 56.Following a timeout, Clipper Ben Brink’s quarterback-style inbounds pass reached the Newburyport free-throw line, where Tiger captain Jose Rios and a Clipper both had the ball skim over their fingertips and into the welcoming arms of Newburyport senior Chris Barry. The center laid it in as time expired to give the host Clippers a thrilling 58-56 victory.”We practice that play every day,” said Newburyport coach Tom L’Italien. “The man at the free-throw line knows that if he can’t pull it down that he’s supposed to tip it to the man behind him. Tonight, the practice paid off.”The buzzer-beater sent the Clippers faithful into a frenzy. Barry was mobbed by his teammates and became the bottom of a pig pile. With the win, Newburyport (14-7) advances to the second round of the tournament and will play the winner of Bedford and Greater Lawrence, while the loss ends Tech’s (11-10) season much earlier than the Tigers hoped.”I have to tip my hat off to Newburyport,” said Tiger coach Marvin Avery. “They moved the ball well, and they took advantage of our lack of experience?but when you come into the lion’s den, this is the type of adversity you have to expect.”Trailing by three with 22.8 seconds left, Tech’s Garrett Fairweather was fouled while attempting a three-pointer from the corner. The sophomore silenced the crowd and tied the game by netting all three free throws. Newburyport kept its composure and moments later punched back with a trey out of the hands of Joe Clancy. The swish gave the Clippers the lead with seven seconds on the clock.Victor Smith was not fazed. The Tiger junior guard dribbled out of the backcourt, stopped short behind the arc and drilled the three to level the contest at 56 apiece. Although the game clock read 1.6 seconds following Smith’s clutch trey, the referees convened and ultimately added extra time.”I was celebrating Victor’s shot and focusing on getting the guys into the correct defensive position. I wasn’t paying attention to the clock,” Avery said.L’Italien believed the extra time was added because the timekeeper did not stop the clock quickly enough. He stated the referees were made aware of Newburyport’s desire to call a timeout immediately following Smith’s shot regardless of its success.”Even though I’m disappointed with the loss and feel bad for the seniors, I’m excited for next season,” Avery said.Tech trailed by 10 after the Clippers’ opening possession of the second quarter, but Smith dominated the remainder of the half. The Tigers went on a 17-2 run and built a 28-22 lead by halftime. Smith had 11 points and three steals during the run (no other Tech player had more than two points in the first half) and the Tiger defense forced eight Newburyport turnovers in the second quarter alone.The Clippers minimized their errors and committed no turnovers in the fourth quarter.”I told them we couldn’t reinvent the wheel on offense and had to stop trying to play (Tech’s) game,” L’Italien said. “Our offense is all about being disciplined and running sets. We took their best shot early and midway through the third we got our legs.”Clancy finished as Newburyport’s leading scorer with 18. Barry dropped in 15 and pulled down eight boards.Smith was the game’s high scorer with 23 and also had seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. Fairweather finished with five, and senior captain Jake Canty chipped in with eight and had a key offensive rebound and tip-in late in the contest.

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