PAWTUCKET — After dodging knockout punches for most of the night, Shea delivered one of its own in overtime during its showdown with Central Falls on Monday night.
Junior guard and tri-captain Malik Moody scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the four-minute OT session to help the Raiders grab a 64-58 win over their neighboring foes before a packed house at “The Cage” in the two sides’ Division II regular-season finale.
The Raiders, who will head into the playoffs with an 11-7 record and six victories in their last eight games, led only four times in regulation -- three times during the contest’s first three minutes and the other time with 5:04 left in the second half when Christian Malave buried a pair of free throws to give the Raiders a 45-43 cushion.
The Warriors, meanwhile, seemed to be in control, and while they owned the lead for the bulk of the game, they were unable to push it beyond five points and led by that many on seven different occasions.
Their last five-point command was a 52-47 lead with 1:58 to play in regulation, but Shea, thanks to two key steals by Malave, netted the final five points to send the game into OT and eventually win it.
“These guys could have given up,” said Shea coach Matt Pita. “But this team finds a way to win and I’m proud of these guys. They played hard and they found a way to win.
“It was a tough game. That’s a very good ballclub we beat. It was tough, but it was also a lot of fun and we’re very happy with this win.”
While Pita was overjoyed with the outcome, C.F. coach Brian Crookes was disappointed with the loss, which drops his Warriors to 10-8 and snaps a four-game win streak.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” said Crookes. “We turned the ball over at critical times when we needed to protect it, and Shea was able to turn the turnovers into baskets.
“Shea played hard, and when we went into overtime, the momentum was clearly on their side because they had to come back to get into the game.”
Both teams actually had their chances to claim the battle in the final minute of regulation after Malave knotted the score at 52-52 with 45.1 seconds to play by hitting the front end of two free throws.
The Warriors tried to pull ahead after Shea tied the game, but Zach DePina stole the ball with 23 seconds left and the Raiders had their chance to win it.
But with 15 seconds on the clock, Moody got called for a backcourt violation, and again, it was the Warriors’ turn to earn the victory.
They got off one shot, an off-balanced layup in traffic by Derrick Lopes with 2.8 seconds to play that clanged off the rim. The Raiders grabbed the rebound, but were unable to get off a desperation shot.
In overtime, the Raiders and Moody quickly went to work. Moody sank a pullup jumper seconds into the extra period to give Shea the lead, and after the Warriors missed a long three-pointer, Moody responded with an off-balanced, lefthanded layup to give the hosts a four-point lead.
The Raiders then took a six-point lead with 2:21 to go on a pair of free throws by Austin Silva, but the Warriors soon answered back with the next four points on two free throws by Lopes and a layup by Jose Peraza to make it 58-56 game with 1:32 to play.
But Shea’s lead went back to four points 15 seconds later on a layup by Silva, and after the Warriors turned the ball over for the 25th and last time in the game, Moody buried a pair of free throws with 45.1 seconds on the clock to bring Shea’s lead to 62-56.
After the Warriors missed another long shot on their next possession, they had to resort to fouling to get the ball back. With 16.4 seconds to play, they sent Moody back to the line, and he sank two more free throws to ice the verdict.
In addition to Moody‘s fine night, the Raiders were also led by their other two captains who were honored during Shea’s ‘Senior Night’ pre-game festivities, Silva and DePina. Silva had 17 points and DePina ended up with 11.
The Warriors also had their tri-captains score in double digits. Clifton Johnson ended up with 16 points, Peraza added 12, and Lopes had 10.
Thanks to the victory, Pita expects his Raiders to earn either the seventh- or eighth- seed in the playoffs and grab a home game in the first round of the Division II playoffs, which is expected to get under way on Friday night. The loss will probably send the Warriors on the road for their opening game.
CENTRAL FALLS (67): Emmett Dixon 0 0-0 0, Derrick Lopes 2 2-2 7, Clifton Johnson 5 3-3 16, Brian Collazo 2 0-0 5, Steve Cleveland 0 0-0 0, William Brotherton 0 0-0 0, Randy Vittini 0 0-0 0, Steven Vazquez 4 0-0 8, Jose Peraza 6 0-3 12, Ryan Murray 3 4-9 10. Totals: 22 9-17 58.
SHEA (73): Austin Silva 5 7-9 17, Malik Moody 7 5-5 20, Eli Itkin 2 0-0 4, Zach DePina 5 1-4 11, Christian Malave 2 3-6 8, Harel Monteiro 2 0-0 4. Totals: 23 16-24 64.
Halftime: Central Falls, 24-20. End of regulation: 52-52. Three-point field goals: Central Falls 5 (Johnson 3, Lopes, Collazo), Shea 2 (Moody, Malave).