LYNN — The Salem boys basketball team had the ball with 24 seconds on the clock, a timeout to draw up the winning play, and the Northeastern Conference Large title hanging in the balance.
Basketball is rarely that clean and simple, however.
Lynn Classical forced a loose ball on Salem’s final possession and a brief scramble ensued, ultimately leading to a Witches’ turnover with less than five seconds to play. As a result, Classical was able to run out the clock and hang on for a title-clinching 62-61 win.
Salem senior Jamie Dominguez dove on the loose ball and attempted to make a pass back out to a teammate from the floor. It appeared that a Lynn Classical player got his foot on the pass, sending the ball out of bounds all the way down the other end of the court.
Salem (14-5) coach Tommy Doyle called a timeout, believing his team was retaining possession with 3.5 seconds left. Some confusion ensued when the Witches learned the ball was awarded to Classical. Doyle had to quickly re-direct his team, but it hardly mattered as Salem would have needed a steal and a miracle shot.
“I tried to tell the kids that you can’t dwell on the last play. There were so many that mattered tonight, some great ones and some mistakes that we need to learn from,” Doyle said. “Classical is a very good team; they’ve got size and speed and shooters, so if you make too many mistakes against a team like that, you’re going to pay for it. Unfortunately, we were just one point short.”
Salem isn’t the type of program that hangs onto moral victories, but the Witches did mount an admirable second-half comeback that Doyle hopes his team can build from.
The Rams (13-4) were sizzling from the outside all night, drilling eight 3-pointers in the first half then extending their lead to 10 twice (50-40 and 52-42) in the third quarter.