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Free throw woes plague St. Paul boys down the stretch of 61-56 overtime defeat to Lions

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul's Gianni Grasso is one of six seniors to finish their high school basketball carers last week, joining T.J. Crawford, John Cacka, Taylor Faber, Hayden Scott and Jacob Coleman.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul junior Broden Lear led the Buckaroos with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.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 throughout 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 left in the competition.

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.

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 left in regulation.

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

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul senior T.J. Crawford goes up for a layup in the fourth quarter of the Buckaroos' 61-56 loss to Livingstone on Friday.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 three3-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 link together a 6-0 run to take a 57-52 lead.

Scott pulled the Bucks within 57-54 on a layup with 1:02 left, 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.

Leichner led three Livingstone players in double digits with 16 points.

RESULTS

ST. PAUL 13 9 11 13 8 — 56

LIVINGSTONE 14 7 11 16 13 — 61

POINTS

St. Paul — Lear 19, Crawford 11, Coleman 9, Scott 9, Cook 6, Grasso 2

Livingstone — Leichner 16, Dryden 13, Castorena 10, Evans 7, Ramon 7, Personius 6, Stockwell 2

3-POINTERS

St. Paul — Lear 5, Crawford 1, Scott 1

Livingstone — Leichner 2, Castorena 2, Evans 1, Ramon 1

FREE THROWS

St. Paul — 5/18

Livingstone — 13/17


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