SPRINGFIELD– The tournament moved to a neutral site atAmericanInternationalCollegeand for theChicopeeboys’ basketball team, their inspiring run came to an end with a 60-53 loss to Commerce in double overtime.
The Pacers, seeded 7th had just knocked off 2nd ranked Putnam in their gym. They began their semifinal with 3rd seeded Commerce by jumping out to an early lead. After the first quarter, the margin was 9 points. But the Red Raiders came back quickly and before the second quarter was half over, they led by 3. The teams traded leads for the rest of the quarter and it was a two point difference at the half. Great defense and some timely scoring in the third putChicopee on top as the game entered the fourth quarter. The Pacers added to their lead in the opening of the fourth, but Commerce would not go away, even after their leading scorer in the game fouled out with nearly 5 minutes to go. A three pointer in the final minute tied the game and sent it to overtime.
After four minutes of overtime, the score was still tied, but the Pacers had lost their top player, Jesus Sanchez to fouls with just over a minute and half to go in the first overtime. Commerce got the early lead in the second extra frame, butChicopeeclosed to one with two minutes to go. They would get no closer, as the Raiders went 5 for 6 from the line and added a trey to pull away for the 60-53 win.
The Pacers took control at the outset, scoring the game’s first 7 points. Less than a minute into the game, Jesus Sanchez scored on a layup and then after a Raiders miss, Jovan Jackson buried a jumper. A minute and a half passed beforeChicopeegot the next score, a Sanchez three pointer to make it 7-0. It was another minute before Commerce finally got on the board with a layup by Jeimy Citron. Nick Guerriero answered that in short order, with a layup of his own and when he completed the three point play with a free throw, theChicopeelead was 10-2. Shadiar Thompson’s put back was answered by aJacksontrey with a minute to go. The first quarter ended with a 13-4Chicopeelead.
The Red Raiders came alive in the second quarter, helped a lot by trips to the foul line. Thompson, who was 0-2 in the first quarter was fouled just 18 seconds in and missed the first. Then he hit the second and two more thirty seconds later. He followed that with a turnaround and suddenly, it was a four point game. AChicopeetimeout did not stem the tide as Kori Wilson followed with a jumper; then two from the line by Alex Lopez tied the game. A minute later, Lopez hit a three and it was 12 unanswered Commerce points and a 16-13 lead. Sanchez quickly got those two points back at the line and Lopez responded with 1 out of 2. A Sanchez trey gaveChicopeethe lead at 18-17 and then over the next minute and twenty seconds he scored 4 more points to put the Pacers up by 5 points with 2:12 to go in the half. The Raiders finsished out the quarter scoring the final 7 points—a basket by Cintron; a three by Antonio Cruzado and another basket by Cruzado on a goaltending call. At the break, Commerce had a 24-22, after trailing by 9 at the quarter. The big difference in the game was at the foul line, whereChicopeewas 3-5, while Commerce had 13 attempts and made 6 of them. Sanchez led all scorers with 14 points and Thompson had 7 to top Commerce. The Pacers had held Lopez, the Raider’s leading scorer to 6 through the first 16 minutes.
The Commerce run continued into the third quarter with a basket by Akeem Stewart and a free throw by Thompson. Having scored 10 straight points, Commerce seemed to be taking charge and had a 5 point lead. Chad Woodfine ended that streak with basket andLouLakequickly followed with a put back to put the Pacers to a point. And it remained that way for nearly two minutes until Woodfine made a layup and was fouled. The free throw putChicopeeup by two, but then Thompson responded with a three to give Commerce back the lead at 30-29. Lake then scored and finished off the three point play with 2:35 to go andChicopeewas back in front by two. A minute later George Dean buried a three and now it was 5. With 21 seconds to Thompson made two free throws to end the quarter withChicopeein front, 35-32.
Ten seconds in Sanchez hit two from the line and 20 seconds after that, Felix Vega made two free throws to give the Pacers a 7 point lead. Thompson got two back at the line and before the first minute had passed; the Raiders were back at the line, though they missed them both. On the second miss, Cintron got the rebound and the baskets to make it 39-36. A minute later Lopez closed it to one. Lakeand Guerriero answered that with 4:56 to play to bring it back to 5 points. Right after the Guerriero basket, Thompson picked up his 5th and fouled out of the game. Over the next 3 minutes all the scoring came from the line—Antonio Smith made two free throws for Commerce; Lake had two forChicopee; then Smith named one of two at 1:40 to make it a three point game. With 52 seconds left, Smith buried a three from the top of the key to tie the game. Neither team was able to score again, though both had ample opportunities, including a last second shot byChicopee. That sent the game into overtime.
Chicopeewon the tap, but Commerce stole the ball and missed. Lakegot the Pacers the lead at 3:20. Lopez answered 12 seconds later and then after aChicopeemiss, he made one of two from the line. The teams went back and forth and then with 1:42 left Sanchez fouled out on an offensive foul. Smith, seconds later hit the second of two free throws to make it a 2 point game. With 1:12 to playLakeburied a jumper from the corner to deadlock the two teams at 48-48. It would remain that way, forcing a second overtime.
Commerce won the tap and Lopez tapped in a miss to give them a 50-48 lead just nine seconds in. Chicopeemissed and Smith was fouled shooting a three. He made one of the three foul shots and then 30 seconds later, Dayvon Williams made 1 of 2 from the line to give Commerce a 4 point lead. Guerriero cut it to a point with a three from the upper right side of the key. On the next trip down, Smith was fouled and made them both and that was followed by a Lopez three to make it a 57-51 game with a1:03 to play. The Pacers tried desperately to find an opening to shoot a three, but had to settle for a layup by Dean with 36 seconds left. At four points, it was still a two possession game. Williams made one of two with 25 seconds left and then after a Pacer miss, Lopez iced the game with two more from the line for the 60-53 final.
In the end the 7 for 11 that Commerce had in the second overtime was the difference in the game.
Sanchez finsished with 16 points, whileLakehad 12, all in the second half and in overtime. Guerriero finished with 8 and it was 5 apiece for Jackson, Dean and Woodfine. Vega scored two. Lopez came alive in overtime and scored 10 of his game high 18 in the two extra frames. Thompson had 15 and Smith scored 10, all coming in the fourth quarter or later. Cintron had six, Cruzado five and it was 2 each for Williams, Stewart and Wilson.