RIVERSIDE – In the end, the Narragansett Pier School Mariners couldn’t pull off a third upset in a row against an undefeated middle school team.
An incredible 37-point performance from Slater’s Cedric Dalomba helped the Spartans overcome a 17-point third quarter deficit and win 54-51 in overtime.
Narragansett head coach Tom Tessitore said that obviously, “no one wants to lose,” but added that the whole experience would help the life skills of his kids.
“The experience they had here is something that they’re going to have again,” he said, referring to the ability to bounce back from adversity and how his team got better as the year went along.
“We started to believe and it’s amazing what the youth can do,” he said.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, as nerves seemed to limit the scoring. Slater held a 19-15 lead, with Dalomba scoring 14 of Slater’s 19 points at the half. However, as they did against Barrington, the Mariners wore down the Spartans to start the second half.
After being held scoreless in the first half, point guard Joseph Sekator had 11 points, a block and a steal in the third quarter, as Narragansett outscored Slater 22-3. Sekator finished with a team high 16 points.
However, as well as the Mariners played in the third quarter, the Spartans matched them in the fourth. Slater scored 24 points in the final quarter, surpassing their total of 22 points for the previous three.
Narragansett started the fourth with a one-minute possession that culminated in a lay-up for Jared Field, his only basket of the game. Slater then scored the next 17 points in 4:10, tying the game up with 1:50 remaining.
Tessitore said he stressed to his team that they were the ones with the lead, but it didn’t seem to take.
“We had our lead but we rushed the game,” he said. “I tried to stress that there is no shot clock.”
In the final 30 seconds, Narragansett had a chance to ice the game by making free throws, but couldn’t execute. As a team, the Mariners went 7-for-17 from the line, in contrast to the 20-for-22 efficiency they used to upset the Barrington Eagles in the semifinals.
With 14.4 seconds remaining, Slater used its final timeout in regulation. In a surprising move, Dalomba passed the ball off instead of taking the final shot. Evan Mathias missed an open 3-point shot for the win, but followed it up, grabbing his own rebound and hitting the put-back to send the game to overtime tied at 46.
In overtime, the Mariners took an early 51-48 lead, as Sekator drove the lane for a two and followed it up with a 3. However, Slater scored the game’s final seven points, as Dalomba fought through a twisted ankle he suffered in the overtime. The Mariners had a chance to tie the game, but a 25-foot prayer from the elbow fell short.
While Sekator was the offensive star, it was the tough defense of Deontae Stanley and William Doyle that limited Dalomba in the first three quarters. Stanley finished with nine points and three steals, and Doyle had two points and three steals.
However, the aggressive box-and-1 defense the Mariners played took its toll on both players, who each finished with four fouls. Tessitore said he had to switch to a zone in the final quarter and overtime in an attempt to keep both in the game. Dalomba took advantage of the fouling and finished 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.
For Narragansett, Chris DiClemente finished with 13 points, and Tyrell Smith had nine points and two steals. Pete Durkin played briefly at the end of the first half and had a steal.