BOSTON -- The third time might have been the charm for Sharon at the end of regulation, but Milton didn't even give the Eagles a first chance at the end of overtime, hanging on to win 71-69 in the Division 2 South Finals.
After giving up a lead late in the fourth quarter, the message heading into overtime was simple for Milton head coach Sean Lopresti.
"We got to do the little things better," he told his team. "There is four minutes left and every possession counts. You have to rebound, you have to knock down your foul shots and thats what we did."
After two missed shots at the end of regulation, Sharon's Brian Mukasa converted on their third try to tie the game. In overtime with a 71-69 lead, the Wildcats put tremendous pressure on Mukasa just over half court at the end of overtime and he was forced into a desperation heave that fell short.
"Great game," said Milton head coach Sean Lopresti. "Sharon's a phenomenal team. They're senior guards are great players. They were hard to beat that's for sure."
Milton jumped out to a quick 66-62 lead in the overtime before Sharon clawed back to tie it at 68. After a Jimmy Fritzson (24 points) gave Sharon a 69-68 lead, Milton's Malik Malcolm calmly sank two free throws. A missed lay up for Sharon would result in Malcolm heading back to the line, where he sank the first of his two attempts. Sharon inbounded the ball in their own half with 5.3 left but were unable to advance the ball far before Mukasa's last second effort fell short.
"There was no adjustment," Lopresti said of what changed from the end of regulation to overtime. "We just tried to keep the ball in front of us as much as we could and force a bad shot."
With :26.7 left in regulation and Milton up 62-59, Sharon advanced the ball before Fritzson launched a three. It was off the mark but the Eagles' Jordan Mello-Klein came away with the rebound and found Mukasa, but his three was off. Senior Erik Kushner wrestled away an other offensive board and found Mukasa, who drained a deep three with 2.8 seconds left to tie it at 62.
"I'm very proud of the kids," said Sharon head coach Bruce Jackman. "We scrapped, we did everything we could. Obviously we were outgunned on the boards but that's not an excuse because its been that way pretty much all year long. They played as hard as they possibly could. It just came down to one error at the end but you make it an error in the first period, its the same thing. It makes no difference."
It was a strong start for Milton, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but the Eagles came alive in the second quarter, dropping 24 points on their way to a 31-23 lead at halftime. But the Wildcats clawed back in the third quarter, mainly behind 11 points from junior Juwan Gooding. A late three-pointer from Matt Papalambros sent the teams into the fourth quarter knotted at 44.
Sharon led by four at one point in the early goings of the fourth quarter but the rest of the way remained level with ties at 50, 52, 53, 56, and 58 before ending regulation tied 62-62.
Gooding finished with a team-high 14 points but five other Wildcats reached double figures. Malcolm added 13, seven of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime, Myles McDermott added 11 points and Anthony Smith, Keyon Jones and Cormac Connors each finished with 10 points.
"We've been a solid team all year," Lopresti added. "It's been a team effort throughout the season. We had six guys in double-digits tonight and that shows you how unselfish we are. It was a great team effort."