HAVERHILL — Haverhill junior Piero Garcia rattled home a free throw with 3:03 left to knot the score at 45-45.
The upstart Hillies, on the comeback trail all night long against Lawrence, had just reached the mountain-top.
But Lancer bigmen Tre’von Farley and Roberto Speing — each a veteran of some serious hoop wars over the last couple years — understood the fight had only just begun.
“I think it was very important to show that if we are going to do this we had to stick together. At that point, I didn’t tell my teammates to get us the basketball. I just told them to be patient and make good decisions,” said the senior Farley, who like Speing was coming off a two-game, coach-imposed hiatus. “We both just knew we had to step up.”
Farley and Speing simply took the cue from there, each going hard to the hoop on the ensuing possessions — with all three resulting in shooting fouls. Farley hit 3 of 4 and Speing 1 of 2, and the Lancers finished the job with some nasty final 2-minute defense to put the scrappy Hillies away, 56-48.
“They are two key components of our team, and we need them to be responsible for their actions (in the classroom),” said Lawrence coach Raymond Nunez, whose club came in having lost four of the last five. “They owed that to their teammates. They missed two games and that can’t happen.”
Farley finished the night with 20 points and a dozen boards, while Speing added 9 and 14. Senior Julius Martinez added 15 points, including the knockout punch with a sweet 14-foot pullup just under 2 minutes to play to push the lead to 51-45.
“We just made a few stops more than them down the end, something we haven’t been doing,” said Nunez.
For the Hillies, it was a gritty uphill climb most of the night after trailing 15-10 after one, and 28-21 at the half.