NORTH SMITHFIELD — Davies Tech came ridiculously close to achieving the impossible on Wednesday night.
Its host, North Smithfield High, had taken a 26-26 halftime stalemate into the locker room, then assembled a remarkable 14-0 flurry in the span of 6:07 to start the final stanza to snatch a 40-26 cushion.
Slowly, the gamey Patriots fought back, and actually held a 51-49 lead with just 8.8 ticks left in regulation – and with senior tri-captain Rosaliz Torres on the foul line.
She missed both, and Northmen senior Keila Strick dribbled around a defender in the forecourt and found freshman Sam Kent wide open. The latter calmly drained a three-point shot with 1.7 seconds remaining, helping North Smithfield capture an amazing 52-51 triumph before a nearly-packed, and electric, crowd at Lovett Memorial Gym.
There was a lot at stake in this tilt, as Davies had entered it in first place in Division III-North, just ahead of the Northmen. But, with the victory, head coach David Ruff and Co. improved to 11-5 overall and 10-3 in league action to pull ahead of the Pats (9-4, 8-3); NS now owns a win percentage of 76.9, while Davies fell to 72.7.
Strick led her teammates on this very special “Senior Night,” posting 16 points, while Kent mustered 15 and fellow senior captain Jaime LaFazia only eight. Still, seniors Pam Denomme, Kent and Tara Larson controlled the boards for most of the game before the visitors manufactured its astonishing run.
For the Patriots, senior tri-captain Kaitlin Flynn finished with a game-leading 17, including four treys, while Torres notched 15 and another tri-captain, Waleska Kelly, netted 13.
North Smithfield jumped all over Davies at the start of the final half, Larson and Denomme both hitting short jumpers, and -- minutes later – Strick dropped a driving scoop, Kent a putback and Strick a 15-footer to push the lead to 40-26 with 9:53 remaining.
But Kelly and Flynn both hit three-point bombs, the last of NBA length, to ignite a stunning 18-2 run over the next 6:08. With 3:28 left. Torres canned a trey to give Davies a 44-42 advantage, its first since the 8:34 mark of the first half.
The lead changed a few times the rest of the way, though Kelly’s 15-foot jumper with 48.2 ticks left, and Joneilly Alicia’s freebie gave the Pats a 51-49 advantage. That only set up Kent’s buzzer-beater.
“When we were behind by 14 to start the second half, I just asked our girls to keep their composure, stick with the game plan and that we had to finish,” stated head coach Joe Handy after the contest. “I said I wanted them to play to the last second, and they certainly did.
“With two seconds left, they scored, and I was in the ref’s ear, trying to call a timeout because I thought we’d still have a second-plus to try to score,” he added. “He told me he didn’t hear me … I have to say that I told the girls before the end, no matter what happened, I was very proud of their performance. They never gave up and gave it everything they had until the last second.”
What may have cost the Patriots: They made 29 turnovers, though forced their opponents into 24. They also managed only 10-of-26 from the charity stripe, while the Northmen were 7-of-10.