Cardinals Grind Out a Win Over Winnisquam

Claremont — The last time Stevens High’s boys basketball team played at home was on Dec. 21, when the Cardinals won at the buzzer after Jordan Haines threw in an off-balance 3-pointer to beat Mascoma 58-55.

Two road games followed, with the Cardinals losing to Newport and not playing well in a win at Windsor. Last night, the Cardinals returned to Carr Gym and needed to rally for a 60-59 win over Winnisquam.

Trailing Winnisquam 59-52 with 1:34 to go, the Cardinals scored eight unanswered points to close the game with a dramatic finish.

Down by two points, Stevens called a timeout with 28 seconds to go and the ball under its own basket. Ryan Tanguay put the ball in play to Dorion Bolden, and Tanguay ran to the corner, took the ball back and drained a 3-pointer, his fifth from long range during a 25-point night.

“We knew he was their shooter, but we just couldn’t get to him,” Winnisquam coach Kevin Dame said.

While this proved to be the deciding basket, the game still had some more drama left. On Winnisquam’s next possession, the Bears turned the ball over. They then fouled Haines, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Bears got the rebound with 3.2 seconds to go and called a timeout with the length of the floor to go. The inbounds pass went to freshman guard Christian Serrano, who already had two 3s, on the Winnisquam side of midcourt. He got off a couple of dribbles and let it fly, but it was off the mark.

Dame explained that Serrano was supposed to take the pass on the fly and look for one of two players to pass to.

“But he took the ball with his back to the basket and when he turned around there was no time to pass the ball,” Dame said.

This was not supposed to be a tough game for the Cardinals. They came into the game at 6-1 (7-2 overall) against a team that was 2-5.

“You know, I tried to get some scouting report on this team, but I couldn’t find anything,” said Stevens coach Scott MacNamee, who realized that this could have been a game his favored Cardinals could have lost.

“We didn’t always play smart and our execution was not always what it should have been, but we did what we had to do,” MacNamee said. “What we didn’t know is that they had a bunch of Reggie Millers on their roster.”

Tanguay said the play that turned into the game winner is called the “Z” play and it went as planned. Tanguay also knew that this was not as well as the Cardinals could play.

“But I think we pleased the basketball gods,” he said.

Dame thought the fact that his team played so well should not have come as such a surprise.

“We’ve been playing pretty well,” he said. “We played well in a Christmas tourney, but we just didn’t have any composure down the stretch tonight. I didn’t think we were the big underdog. We can play well.”

It became apparent early on that Winnisquam came to play as, the Bears made four threes in the first quarter — seven in the game — and were in front 20-17. The Cardinals looked like they were going to take control when they went up 28-20 in the second quarter ,only to see the Bears get the last six points of the period.

And so it went until the Cardinals got the shot that counted.

“It shouldn’t have been that difficult,” MacNamee said. “I was happy with the intensity and we had the right guy with the ball in the end.”

Stevens goes to Fall Mountain on Tuesday.