LAWRENCE — It had become a worst-case scenario for Central Catholic.
Playing without superstar Tyler Nelson, who left the game with an ankle injury, and with key big men Nick Cambio and Aaron Hall both limited due to foul trouble, the Raiders saw a lead that once stood at 17 points dwindle to a 55-55 tie with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
But Central was not about to surrender.
“We have come back before,” said Raider senior Nick Cambio. “We have come back to beat St. John’s Prep and BC High, so we knew we had the composure and the state of mind to rally.”
Following the tying bucket, junior Pat Sullivan hit a free throw and then a possession later took a pass from Cambio for the hoop that gave Central a three-point edge. A.J. Pettway and Sullivan then combined to go 8 for 8 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the Raiders’ 66-57 win over Cambridge Rindge & Latin in the title game of the Presidents Day Round Ball Classic.
“This was a big win for us,” said Pettway, a sophomore guard. “It is huge in (the race) for the top seed in Division 1 North and they were tough.”
Pettway, who scored just one point in the first 31 minutes of last night’s game, proved to be the star as the clock ticked down.
After Cambridge scored to cut the lead back to one point with just over a minute to play, Pettway swished a pair of free throws, and was perfect on two more trips to the line to close out the victory.
“Those were the biggest (free throws) of my life,” he said. “I had a feeling that they were going to foul me, and I was a little nervous. But I just tried to clear my mind of everything and just focus on the free throws. I just wanted to keep my composure.”