The Johnston boys basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 51-48 decision to Lincoln in overtime in the Division III Finals at CCRI on Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers trailed by 10 points midway through the second half but would work their way back to eventually regain the lead with 2:34 remaining in regulation when Anthony Tavares and Hunter Remington hit consecutive 3-pointers.
However, Lincoln would rely on standout Octavio Brito down the stretch, who helped guide the Lions to overtime and would score seven points in the extra period to propel Lincoln to the title. Brito finished the day with a game-high 34 points overall.
The Panthers faced an uphill battle, falling behind and seeing big man Thomas Zednik foul out with over six minutes to go in regulation.
“We didn’t want to start playing man because Brito killed us last time in man. We were happy when it was a four, five point lead. It was tough when Zednik fouled out, but Remington did a great job defending (Brito), our guards made some big shots, I’m proud of these guys. We could have folded when Zednik fouled out but we came back took the lead. I wouldn’t want to coach any other kids, these are great kids,” said Johnston coach Ed Bedrosian after the loss.
The Panthers fought hard in the overtime period and led in the opening minute. Johnston had a chance to take the lead down 49-48 with 14 seconds and taking over possession. However, Tavares’ inbound attempt deflected off of a Lincoln defender, then back off of him, which turned the ball over to the Lions who closed the show.
Tavares and Remington led the Panthers with 12 points each while Derek Salvatore added 10 and Zednik added seven. Johnston will now take on La Salle in the open state tournament on Thursday evening.
“The good news is that we live to play another game in the open state tournament. We have La Salle, so we just need to focus and get ready. La Salle will be tough, they’re DI, we’ll be the underdog. But we can play a little looser and give it our best shot. You never know, it’s March Madness, I told them that we’re going to another great environment and to enjoy the moment,” said Bedrosian. “I wouldn’t do it any different today, it went to overtime and one shot was the difference.”