Old Lyme's comeback falls short in Shoreline showdown with Cromwell

Cromwell — They only play each other once during the regular season, but there's no mistaking a rivalry when you see one. And that was what Old Lyme and Cromwell's high school boys' basketball teams brought over the final, pulsating moments Monday night.

Cromwell, ranked seventh in the state, won the game 50-48 to finish the season 20-0 and grab the top seed in the upcoming Shoreline Conference tournament beginning Saturday.

But Cromwell won the game only by virtue of a missed 3-point attempt by Old Lyme's Aedan Using, which bounced out instead of bouncing in at the final buzzer.

Old Lyme (16-3, 14-1) trailed by 11 points after three quarters before rallying to take the lead at 46-45 on a 3-pointer by Ray Doll with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining.

The lead changed four times in the final minute and a half before Cromwell's Nick Wright made a game-winning three-point play with 28 seconds to play, accounting for the final margin. Wright had a game-high 25 points.

"The kids just played hard, made some shots, didn't give up," Old Lyme coach Kirk Kaczor said of the comeback from the 40-29 deficit after three quarters. "Listen, I've just got a resilient group.

"I hoped it would be an intense game. I'd like to play them more than once a year. I'd like to play them more than just the last game of the season."

Playing before an electrically-charged, packed house at Cromwell, Old Lyme trailed 22-19 at the half.

Cromwell then launched a 10-2 run to end the third quarter, capped by a three-point play from Wright, who put back an offensive rebound and was fouled, and a dramatic 3-pointer by JJ Tracy-Gavin, who sprawled backward into a celebratory Cromwell bench.

With Cromwell leading 44-34, however, on a shot by Gabe Charleston, Old Lyme got a 3-pointer by Using to start a 7-0 run. Quinn Romeo hit both ends of a one-and-one and Doll dribbled the ball the length of the floor and drove to the basket for two points to cut the margin to 44-41.

Tracy-Gavin made one foul shot for Cromwell with 2:24 to play, then Doll scored twice in a row, giving Old Lyme the 46-45 lead on his 3-pointer.

Wright put Cromwell back in the lead on a jump shot to make it 47-46 and Doll drew a foul and made both free throws to flip it back in Old Lyme's favor with 46.1 seconds remaining.

Following what would prove to be the game-winning basket by Wright, Kaczor called a timeout with 2.2 seconds remaining, with Old Lyme struggling to get a shot off. Cromwell coach John Pinone followed with a timeout of his own, as the suspense built.

Doll finished with 14 points for Old Lyme, which concludes the regular season Wednesday against Morgan. Romeo had 14 points and Using 10.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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