Published March 02. 2013 4:00AM
New Haven - Old Lyme High School spent the entire third quarter of Friday's Shoreline Conference boys' basketball tournament final expending energy to erase a double-digit deficit and close in on Valley Regional of Deep River.
A second remained in that quarter when Valley's players collectively said, "the heck with this."
Chris Connor jump-started Valley with a putback at the buzzer. The top-seeded Warriors then blitzed the No. 2 Wildcats and won the Shoreline title, 69-55, at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
"We were pretty exhausted by the end," Old Lyme coach Kirk Kaczor said. "They took it too us."
Slater Gregory had 14 points for the Wildcats (17-6). Andrew Tyrol added 12 points.
Jon Luster had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Valley (21-2). Christopher Jean-Pierre scored a game-high 21.
It was the Warriors' first Shoreline title since 1984. They lost in the previous two conference finals.
Old Lyme trailed by as much as 13 points (34-21) late in the first half. It finally got in a groove during the third quarter as back-to-back free throws by Zac Abrahamsson and Gregory cut the Wildcats' deficit to 49-44 with 12 seconds left.
Connor answered with his putback to start a 15-2 Valley run.
"That (putback) hurt," Kaczor said. "We had just scored two and got (the deficit) down a little bit. I had some of my starters on the bench, got some other guys some time, hoping they could get us close and they did get it close. But that basket was big for them. Absolutely."
George Logan made a 3-pointer with over three minutes left in the fourth quarter for Old Lyme. It was just its second basket of the period, but the Wildcats still trailed 64-49.
"You just have to give them credit," Logan said of Valley. "We held our own in the third quarter. We were pretty even. Then the fourth quarter they started pulling away because we had to start making desperate plays."
Logan was the primary target of the Warriors' defense. The senior first-team All-Shoreline guard had scored his 1,000th point in Tuesday's semifinal win over Cromwell.
Valley sicced senior guard Mason King on Logan. Logan was held scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points.
Jake Luster came off the bench to guard Logan, too, when King needed a breather.
"He's a great player," King said. "It's always difficult playing a good player, but it's fun. I love the challenge."
Kaczor said, "(Valley had) a bunch of guys who were keeping (Logan) was getting the ball; pressuring our guards. They did a really good job, and George is a real generous kid. He made some great passes tonight and he's content doing that."