MERIDEN — At 1-5, CCC South crossover foes Plainville and Platt each entered Friday night’s boys basketball tilt in a need of a win.
The Blue Devils dominated overtime to earn a hard-fought 65-60 victory over the Panthers.
The Blue Devils scored the first seven points of the extra session, then hit enough free throws in the closing minutes to ice it.
Friday’s action was competitive from the opening tip and dramatic until the final horn of regulation.
Platt (1-6) came from behind to force overtime. Platt freshman Anthony Nimani hit three big shots in the final three mintues that either tied the game or put Platt ahead.
Plainville’s Javan Paradis knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 to put the Blue Devils up 57-55 with 1:19 to go in regulation.
Platt’s Enrique Quintana tied the game with a layup that was assisted by Tre Carter with 41 seconds left.
The squads exchanged turnovers. Ultimately, Plainville had two close-range shots at the buzzer that both rimmed out.
The extra session was all Blue Devils. Brennan Staubley and Paradis both canned a pair of free throws as Plainville went up by four. Paradis added a layup and Alec Couture added a free throw as Plainville went up 64-57 with 1:03 left in the extra session.
Elijah Wright canned a 3-pointer to bring Platt within 64-60 with 28.7 seconds left, but it proved to be too little, too late.
“It was a rough one,” Platt coach Shawon Moncrief said. “A lot of turnovers on our part and that’s been our problem all season: ball security. That’s something we are trying to work on, but it’s hurting us now. We need to fix it immediately.
“The guys are still positive, but we are losing games that we could have won and it leaves a burning in our stomachs.”
Couture had a game-high 22 points to lead Plainville. Paradis finished with 17 points and Brennan Staubley chipped in with 10.
“We are certainly a work in progress after graduating eight seniors from last year,” Plainville coach Jim DiNello said. “The decision-making is getting better. When you play against a team like that, that scrambles and traps, it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to overcome that stuff, and I thought my kids did a job with that tonight.”
Platt was playing short-handed. The Panthers typically have 10-11 players in their rotation. Moncrief said players missed Friday’s game for “a variety of reasons.”
Carter was the top scorer for the Panthers with 20 points. Wright had 15 and Nimani added 12.
Moncrief said he’s been pleased with Nimani’s contributions for just a freshman.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Moncrief said. “He’s a major part of our team. But, overall, we need to take care of the basketball.”
Carter said the Panthers just need to work harder. They still have postseason aspirations.
“We have 13 games left,” Carter said. “We need to come to practice every day and do what we need to do.”
Carter had it going early and often for the Panthers. He rushed to the rim for a layup from the opening tip, then added back-to-back treys and a jumper to account for Platt’s first eight points.
Carter’s fast-break assist to Nimani put Platt up 10-5 and forced Plainville to call a timeout with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
Carter capped the quarter with a steal and layup as the Panthers led 16-13.
Wright established himself in the second quarter by spurring a 7-0 spurt. Wright, who poured in eight points in the first half, had a trey and a layup during to start the run, which was capped with putback by Antwone Santiago that put the Panthers up 23-15 with 6:07 left in the first half.
Plainville packed a 2-3 zone and forced Platt to take outside shots. The Panthers went through 5:22 scoring drought which the visitors turned into a 13-0 run and a 28-23 lead.
Couture started it with a 3-pointer. Paradis and Anthony Lestini ripped off four straight points apiece and Louis Passaretti capped the run with an easy deuce.
Carter stopped the bleeding by slashing to the hole for a well-earned hoop with 1:07 on the clock. Plainville led 28-25 at the break.
Platt opened the second half with a dominant defensive performance. The Panthers went on a 6-0 run over the first 4:49 to take a 31-28 lead.
The lead could have been bigger if it wasn’t for missed layups and turnovers.
Plainville responded with a 13-2 run that spilled into the fourth quarter and gave the Blue Devils a 41-33 advantage with 7:44 left in the fourth.
Couture was unstoppable in the second half. He three consecutive treys in the third quarter and added another 3-ball, a two-point jumper and a foul shot as Plainville led 50-44 midway through the fourth.
“The guys were aware enough when we get a guy that hot to get him the ball,” DiNello said.
Platt responded with three straight buckets, including an old-fashioned three-point pay by Nimani. to go up 51-50 with 3:33 to go.
Later in the quarter, Paradis responded with a 3-point-play of his own to put Plainville up 55-53 with 1:45 showing on the clock.
Nimani then tied the game 55-55 with a deuce with 1:22 remaining. Paradis answered by knocking down both ends of a 1-and-1 to put the Blue Devils on top 57-55. Quintana tied it for Platt with 41 seconds left.
Couture and Passaretti had shots to win it at the buzzer, but they rimmed out.