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Free throw woes plague the St. Paul boys team in the final period of a 61-56 defeat on Friday

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Senior guard T.J. Crawford attempts a shot in St. Paul's 61-56 overtime loss to Livingstone Adventist Academy on Friday at home.

The St. Paul boys basketball team's season came to a close on Friday afternoon, falling 61-56 in an overtime loss to Livingstone Adventist Academy in the opening round of the 1A Casco League playoffs.

It was a devastating loss for the Bucks, who had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation, but were unable to overcome numerous miscues at the free throw line, going 5-of-18 from the charity stripe over the course of the game.

Leading by 10 points at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, the Buckaroos' saw their advantage disappear behind a furious charge from Livingstone. The Lions went on an 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch in the fourth to pull within 46-45 with 1:30 remaining in the game.

St. Paul senior T.J. Crawford stopped the bleeding with a driving layup with under a minute left to play to give the Bucks a three-point cushion. Following an empty possession on the other end of the floor by Livingstone, senior Hayden Scott earned a trip to the line with 27 seconds left.INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gianni Grasso, also a senior guard, drives to the basket in the loss, which ended the Buckaroos' season with a 10-15 overall record.

But Scott missed the front end of a 1-and-1, which was rebounded by the Lions. Livingstone quickly moved the ball up the sideline to sophomore Nathan Castorena, who drilled a three-pointer from the right side to tie the game at 48-48 with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

St. Paul inbounded the ball and moved up court looking for an opening at a game-winning shot. The Lions cut off the Bucks' attempts to find an open man, leaving senior Gianni Grasso to heave a desperation three at the buzzer.

The shot missed the mark, but the referees ruled that Grasso was fouled on the attempt, putting the St. Paul guard on the free throw line with 1.2 seconds remaining. But Grasso missed all three attempts, sending the game to overtime for one more four-minute period.

Senior Jacob Coleman opened the extra time splitting a pair of free throws for the Bucks before Livingstone took the lead on back-to-back possessions. St. Paul junior Broden Lear gave his team the lead back with his fifth three-pointer of the game, putting the Bucks up 52-51.

That was the final lead for St. Paul, which saw Livingstone senior Dylan Mordeno and Castorena forge a 6-0 run to take a 57-52 lead.

Scott pulled the Bucks within 57-54 on a layup with 1:02 remaining, but Mordeno quickly responded with a field goal on his end. A pair of empty possessions on either end of the court ate away the clock before Scott hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to pull within three points again.

But Mordeno was sent to the line on the other side and sank a pair to make it a 61-56 final.

Lear led all scorers with 19 points, followed by 11 from Crawford and nine each from Coleman and Scott.

The Bucks finished 9-5 in conference play, good for fourth place, and 10-15 overall.

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