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Indians Stunned; Lose on Buzzer-Beating Try

Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

PAST SETH: Liberty’s Evan Mullen (21) soars past Tuxedo’s Seth Caridi in Tuesday’s 54-53 win by the visiting Tornadoes. Caridi’s 3-pointer at the buzzer clinched the win for Tuxedo.

By Frank Rizzo
LIBERTY — February 11, 2000 -- Some dejá vus are strictly nightmares. Think Liberty, Tuxedo, boys’ basketball, and last second shots.
The visiting Tornadoes knocked off Liberty 54-53 in Tuesday’s Orange County League (OCL) National Conference Division II boys’ game when forward Seth Caridi sank a 3-pointer from the corner as the buzzer sounded.
Almost a year ago, Tuxedo upended the Indians in a Class C quarterfinal when Tom Haggerty drained a shot in the waning seconds to give the Tornadoes a 44-42 win.
Liberty coach Ed Riente expected a tough contest, noting his team beat Tuxedo by just six points in the first round game back on January 12.
The first half of Tuesday’s match saw nine lead changes and two ties as neither team could construct a lead of more than four points. Liberty led 11-10 after one quarter and 29-27 at the break.
Chris Winters banked one in from beyond the top of the key at the buzzer to give the Indians their halftime lead.
Liberty started opening some daylight in the third, going up by as many as eight points on two occasions — the second with 2:18 remaining in the stanza, when Chris Sinceno connected from long range.
But Tuxedo scored five straight to cut the margin to three, before Liberty answered at the buzzer again, with 6-foot-7 pivot Travis Emery tipping in Sinceno’s 3-point miss.
With four minutes to go in the game, Sinceno won a rebound and put the ball back in to give Liberty a 53-46 lead. After that, nothing.
At 2:49 Caridi, giving a preview of his game-ending crusher, sank one from downtown to make it 53-49.
With 53 seconds remaining, Shannon Elliott sank both ends of a one-and-one to cut the gap to two points.
Liberty set up a shot for Jon Tanous, who lofted a 3-pointer from the corner. It bounced up and hit the top of the backboard, giving Tuxedo possession with 17 ticks left.
At the Tuxedo end, Mike Poje played Elliott tight near the sideline, forcing him to call time or risk a five-second possession call.
Four seconds remained as Tuxedo’s Rick Dowling, avoiding Emery’s distracting long arms, got set to throw the ball in from over the endline. Caridi got open, received the pass, then niftily stepped beyond the 3-point line. Sinceno desperately lunged, trying to get a hand in the shooter’s face as Caridi launched a low-arcing ball.
The buzzer sounded as the ball swished cleanly through, setting off a wild celebration on the visitors’ side.
“It was something we ran the whole game,” Tuxedo coach Joe DiMattina said of the winning play. “I told my players four seconds was a lot of time, and someone was bound to get a good shot, or a good drive to the basket and maybe draw a foul.”
He added, “This was similar to the game down there (at Tuxedo), very tough and intense.”
“We knew what (Tuxedo) was setting up, but the kid made a good shot,” Riente said.
The Indians coach noted that his team’s poor shooting (20 percent) was uncharacteristic.
“(This loss) is a character builder,” Riente said. “I told (my team) they have to learn to be gracious losers as well as gracious winners. I also told them that we’re beatable if we don’t work hard.”
Tuxedo, Riente noted, “is a tough team for us to match up against. They shoot well from the perimeter and they are big and strong.”
The Indians hosted second-place Florida-Seward last night, too late for inclusion here.
“I hope we can build on this (loss),” Riente said. “I’m glad it happened now instead of later. I hope we can get it out of our system.”
Sinceno shot 8-for-14 and finished with 19 points to pace Liberty. He also added 11 rebounds and five steals.
Emery (5-for-11) scored 13 points and eight of his 13 rebounds came off the offensive glass.
Evan Mullen added nine for Liberty while Tanous finished with six.
Matt Morris led Tuxedo with 17 points while Caridi finished with 14.


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