Saturday wasn't a good day to be a Northwest Catholic fan. The day started with the Indians' hockey team dropping a 2-1 decision to Newington/Berlin in the CIAC Division III Championship Game and finished with what was a tale of two halves that resulted in top-seeded NWC losing the CIAC Class L Championship Game to Career Magnet, 51-49, at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.
The Panthers bolted out to an 11-0 lead before NWC lit the scoreboard on one-of-three free throws from Nick Gaynor and a three-pointer from 6'10” junior Kuran Iverson.
The Indians found themselves on the short end of 16-6 and 29-13 scores at the close of the first and second quarters. NWC connected on just 3-20 (15.0%) from the floor and 6-12 (50%) from the line in the first 16 minutes of play.
“I don't know if it was a surprising or disappointing start to the game,” Indians' head coach John Mirabello said. “We just could not get ourselves going at all. It was very uncharacteristic for us and the kids were a little bit frustrated by that. We asked them at halftime to play the way we know how and to show all the heart they have shown all year long.
“There was no way we could go through a whole game like that. I'm very pleased and proud of them to come back the way they did and to have an opportunity to win the game. It just wasn't meant to be. What you saw in the second half is more of who we are and what we've been doing all year. We had an opportunity, down two (49-47), but we turned the ball over and we were a little short. You expend so much energy on a court like that, pressing like that. It's very hard to do. I'll take what we did in the second half with me forever with this group.”
Career took its largest lead of the game, 38-17, midway through the third period and were up 42-26 heading into the final chapter. The revitalized Indians opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 surge. Gaynor grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to get the Indians rolling. Senior Kywane Thomas followed suit before Iverson scored on a Gaynor steal and completed the three-point play to draw to within nine, 42-33. Two free throws by Thomas sliced deeper into the Career lead with 4:51 left in the game.
NWC's last scoring assault featured back-to-back treys from Iverson and Tyler Huffman. Thomas hit two more free throws and though the Indians were in the thick of things, down 48-47, with 1:32 left to play, they were denied for the second-straight year. New London earned the 2011 Class L title over the Indians by a 63-55 score.
“Career's kids handle the ball very well and play together very well. You try to limit their shots. They attack the offensive glass very well. With all that said, we didn't back down when we had an opportunity to win,” Mirabello said.
Career's Treyvon Moore led all scorers with 25 points, including 11-14 from the field. He added six rebounds and five steals in 32 minutes. Cory Bidon chipped in 13 points.
Iverson's 32 minutes of playing time produced a team-high 20 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, 12 of which came off of the defensive glass. Thomas finished with 13 points for NWC.