LENOX, Mass. -- The most dramatic shot of Friday’s boys basketball game between Wahconah and Lenox came from behind the 3-point line.
The most important shots came at the foul line.
Kevin Huban went 4-for-4 at the stripe and scored six points in overtime to lead Wahconah to a 52-50 win over the Millionaires.
“We hit some foul shots, and that was key,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “It’s the same thing we did at Sabis in our last game; we made six straight free throws in overtime to beat them. We’ve got to make our free throws. That hurt us in our loss this year, so it’s something we’ve been focusing on.”
Lenox (5-2) trailed most of the night and overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter, forcing OT when Luke Patella (20 points) grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a step-back 3 with 3.2 seconds left in regulation.
Patella then started the extra session by connecting from the top of the key to give Lenox a 47-45 lead.
But Wahconah scored the next seven points.
First, Huban was fouled in the post and hit both his free throws to tie it. Then, Wahconah’s Griffen Salvini got his hand on a pass at the defensive end, forcing a turnover and igniting a fast break that ended with Huban again getting to the line, where he gave his team a two-point lead.
On Wahconah’s next possession, Easton Eberwein earned a trip to the line and made one of two.
Then Eberwein made a rebound at the other end that led to a Huban lay-in with 11.7 seconds left in OT to give Wahconah a 52-47 advantage.
Lenox was not through.
Patella hit his third 3-pointer of the night to make it a one-possession game with 5.1 seconds left. And Patella stole the ensuing baseline inbounds pass, leading to a foul in the paint that sent Lenox to the line with 2 seconds left.
But the Millionaires missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Salvini secured the rebound to end the game.
“Making free throws is key, and we’ve got to get that big stop and finish it with a rebound,” Belcher said. “We’re long, but we didn’t rebound the ball particularly well tonight. So we’ve got to get back to fundamentally boxing out and finishing our defensive trips with rebounds.
“That’s how you win ballgames, especially tight ones down the stretch. And then you’ve got to make free throws.”
Wahconah’s defense kept Lenox off the board until the fifth minute of the game, when Andre Collins knocked down a triple to cut into a 6-0 Wahconah lead.
Wahconah pushed its lead back to seven late in the first and was up by six midway through the second after Tom O’Connor (14 points, 14 rebounds) hit a 3 to make it 21-15.
The teams then traded runs to get to halftime.
Lenox scored seven straight to take a one-point lead when Patella set up Jett Steinman (12 points) for a bucket with 1:40 left in the second.
Wahconah closed with an eight-point spurt: triples from O’Connor and Huban and a bucket by Aiden Trager to give his team a 29-22 lead in the locker room.
It was a seven-point margin again early in the third when Lenox went on a 6-0 run. Patella drove the lane for two, Averin Paradise put back an offensive rebound and Patella hit from the elbow with an assist from Steinman to make ti 38-37 with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation.
“We’ve played very well in the second half so far this year,” Lenox coach Brian Cogswell said. “We’ve got to come out a little stronger, I think. It took us four and a half minutes to score tonight. But hats off to what Wahconah did tonight. They made changes when they had to make changes, and it made a difference for them.”
Michael Ward’s basket in transition tied the game at 42-42 with 1:23 on the clock, and Lenox had the ball with a chance to take the lead moments later but was whistled for an illegal screen.
After the turnover, Huban put back an offensive rebound, and O’Connor hit a foul shot to put Wahconah up, 45-42, with 23 seconds on the clock.
After a Lenox timeout with 14 seconds left, Steinman took a 3 from the right wing that rimmed out. Paradise tipped the rebound toward Patella at the top of the key, and he took a dribble, stepped back and delivered a clutch jumper to tie the game with 3.2 remaining.
“That’s how we wrote it up, to tell you the truth,” Cogswell said. “We had two or three different looks at it the way we had it set up, and Luke made the big shot. That’s huge.”
Lenox will look to get back in the win column on Monday when it hosts Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter.
Wahconah (4-1) hosts Mount Anthony Union of Bennington, Vt., on Monday.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Belcher said. “I just told them in [the locker room]. It’s a tough gym to play in. Lenox is playing really, really well. So to come out of here with a win, we’ve got to at least appreciate the fact that we fought hard and we found a way to win the game.”