Cromwell survives to see semis

The Cromwell boys’ basketball team earned a 53-48 win over Immaculate on March 14. Despite having a healthy lead in the second half, the Panthers’ defense had to step up to seal the victory.

Immaculate and Cromwell were tied at halftime, and that wasn’t acceptable to the veteran coach, who let his team know that during intermission.

“He told us we played our worst half of basketball of the year,” said senior Jake Regula. “He said we had to play better than that, and that’s what we did. It was definitely good we got the win. I thought we had closed the game out, but we didn’t. Our defense really saved us.”

“It was a hard fought game, and we have to come up better in the next game,” added senior Matt Turkington. “At the end, our free-throws weren’t falling, and that was big trouble, but we were able to hold them off at the end.”

Pinone said his team didn’t win, but rather, “survived” the game, after allowing Immaculate to creep back within striking distance late in the fourth quarter that was nearly disastrous for the Panthers.

“We had one pass that I caught [well out of bounds],” Pinone said, “and a traveling violation, and then we fouled twice in the lane and shot maybe 50-percent from the free-throw line. I told them I was disappointed. That shouldn’t happen from an experienced team that has five seniors.”

Pinone said his team really looked best just after halftime.

“The difference was really the third quarter,” Pinone said. “We were able to get up by 8 or 9 at the end of the third, which gave us a little breathing room. We held them to two points, and we defended, which has always been the trademark of our program, but we didn’t shoot the ball well. We had a lot of open looks, and we usually shoot better than we did. The defense helped us survive. It might be a step to call this a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take the result and move on.

Cromwell is set to face Valley Regional in the Class S semifinal match. The Panthers faced Valley three times this year. The two teams split the regular season matches, and Cromwell beat Valley 63-59 in the Shoreline Conference tourney semifinal on March 4.

“We’re going to watch film. We’re back to the drawing board, so we’re going to watch film and see if we need to make any adjustments. There aren’t a lot of secrets [between the two teams]. They beat us last year in the state tournament, in the second round, so that’s our story line,” Pinone said.

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