Little did I know I would witness one less than 24 hours later.
When I talked to John Decker (pictured right) after the game it was almost comical how quickly he brushed off the shot as he heaped praise on teammates Conor Cousin (pictured below left) and Matt Moros.
“I had a terrible game,” Decker said.
While I wouldn’t classify 17 points and a game-winning shot as “terrible” Decker certainly wasn’t on most of the night.
Brewster coach John Martino referenced last year’s game at Somers, which also came down to the wire.
“What are you doing to do? He made a great shot,” Martino said. “Last year we beat them here and he missed the 35-footer at the buzzer. This year we lost the same way. Hats off to the kid and hats off to Somers.”
LINCOLNDALE — When Somers’ John Decker took a 3 as time expired with the game tied against Brewster, only one thought raced through his mind.
“I thought it was an air ball to be honest,” Decker said. “A kid hit my hand so I was just like, ‘Oh god.’ ”
It had been that kind of night for Decker, who got into early foul trouble and struggled shooting the ball until late.
The senior came through when it mattered most though, hitting the shot as the buzzer sounded to give the Tuskers (8-1) a 57-54 win over the Bears (2-8).
“I ask myself, should I have doubled Decker all the way down the floor and left some other kid wide open,” said Brewster coach John Martino. “If a player of his caliber takes a 35-footer at the buzzer and beats you, you smile and say, ‘Great shot, son.’ ”
Decker, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, was quick to overlook the shot.
“Conor Cousin and Matt Moros won this game for us; they carried us throughout the whole game,” Decker said. “I kept telling them to shoot the ball every time they got it. That’s what made us win the game, not the shot, it was them.”
Cousin (12 points) and Moros (17 points) both helped bring the Tuskers’ offense back to life in crucial moments.
It was Cousin who would come off the bench to hit two 3s late in the first quarter to push the Somers’ lead to six. He also drained two more to open the second.
Brewster’s Peter Cirocco, who had a game-high 22 points, hit two free throws at the end of the half to give the Bears a 30-28 lead.
Somers went scoreless for the first six minutes of the third. Brewster, however, was only able to score four points during the Tuskers’ drought.
“We came down and turned the ball over and had empty possessions during that period,” Martino said. “We had the chance to take a six-point lead into double-digits, which was clearly there, and we didn’t get that job done.”
It was Moros who would step up late, hitting a 3 at the end of the third to make it a one-point game. The junior hit a pair of 3s as part of an 11-2 run to open the fourth.
“My New Year’s resolution was to come out and shoot the ball more,” Moros said. “In December I was kind of timid, so this year I’m coming out, playing hard and aggressive and, I mean, everyone supported me so it was good.”
Brian McNeil (eight points) hit a 3 with 30 seconds left to cut Somers’ lead to two. After a missed Tusker free throw, Cirocco nailed a jumper to tie the game with 6.7 seconds left.
However, the Bears’ joy was short-circuited once Decker’s shot dropped through the twine.
“It was just get the ball to John; me and Connor go to the wings,” said Moros of the final play. “John … he’s clutch.”
Photos courtesy of Frank Becerra Jr/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.