BOSTON -- With the seconds counting down and a tie ball game, Barrett Hanlon stepped up to the three-point arc along the left wing and let it fly, only to watch the long ball hit nothing but air, and then cringe as one of his Hopkinton teammates picked up a foul on King Philip's Harry Washington with no time expired.
"I was overwhelmed, you could say," Hanlon chuckled. "I thought I had lost the game for us."
To the luck of the white-clad Hopkinton faithful on hand at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center, and the vocal dismay of the KP supporters directly across from them, the foul call was overturned after a discussion between the three referees. The second chance was one that the senior Hanlon didn't take for granted, as the Hillers outlasted King Philip in the overtime, 69-60, erase a double-digit first half deficit and capture the Division 2 South title.
Hanlon (18 points) nailed two crucial baskets in the overtime period to make it a two-possession game. First, with 1:50 left in the extra frame, he crashed through the lane with a floater to give the Hillers (20-3) a 57-56 lead. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Hanlon came up with a steal in the press, and then laid it in easily for a 59-56 advantage. From there, the Hillers never looked back; Wesley Erickson (16 points) nailed key free throws as the Warriors (17-9) went into a fouling strategy with under a minute to go in the frame.
"We were the higher seed, but we went after it like we were underdogs, like we have all year," Hopkinton head coach Tom Keane said. "We've played three tough Hockomock teams in a row now (Stoughton, Oliver Ames and KP), and so I'm also proud of the TVL (Tri-Valley League). I think we have a lot of good teams you don't often hear about. But I'm proud of my guys, and I'm proud of our league."
While it probably showed up frivolous on the play-by-play, Hiller players admitted a momentum swing in the buzzer-beating three-pointer landed by 6-foot-7 senior big man Jake Doucette just before the close of the first half, cutting KP's advantage to 27-21.
And then in the second half, Doucette proved his mettle against one of the state's premier forwards, KP junior forward Jake Layman. Layman (24 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks) found ways to assert himself in other areas of the game -- especially around the rim -- as he struggled to a 7 for 20 night from the field. Doucette called the matchup "a lot of fun", and a matchup he was "absolutely" looking forward to.
"I knew he's a shooting guard, he shoots all the time outside, so I wanted to pressure him outside and make him go down low," said Doucette, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. "And sure enough he did, numerous times in the game, and he was good down low. I just wanted to play him as hard as I can, and focus on that aspect of the game, because I have plenty of offensive players around me who can succeed no matter what."
Layman's older brother, 6-foot-6 senior Connor (15 points, eight rebounds), meanwhile found his own struggles on the floor that may affect his immediate future. With 1:20 to go in regulation, Connor stepped up to the right block and took a charge from Doucette. On the ensuing possession, he fed Christian Fair with a nice dish from the wing, and after the junior kissed the glass with a baseline drive, Connor tapped out to the bench, where he sat for the rest of the game icing his left wrist.
"We're going to wait and see, we're going to get him to the hospital," KP head coach Sean McInnis said. "We'll see what happened with that, but that wrist really took a good snap."