John Rainey banked in a 20-foot jump shot as time expired, giving a 69-67 victory over top-seeded in the quarterfinals of the CIAC Class M boys basketball tournament Monday night.
Enfield had tied the game on a Rachone Preston basket with seven seconds remaining. The Colonels inbounded the ball and got it to Rainey, who unloaded the game-winner from the top of the key.
"We just wanted to get the ball in, and I was wide open so Darney (Gray) passed me the ball," Rainey said.
Ledyard coach Dave Cornish said, "I told them to inbound it to the middle and attack. We wanted that last shot, and we didn't want to give them a chance at getting another shot."
The winning hoop came moments after the host Raiders had completed their comeback from a 10-point deficit with less than six minutes to play.
"When we were down 10, (assistant) coach (Kevin) Zalucki summed it up perfectly when he said there's no other team I'd rather be down 10 with in the fourth quarter than this group," Enfield head coach Cory O'Connell said. "We know we're going to fight back and put it all together, and they did. They played unselfish, intense, hard, scrappy basketball like they've done all season, tied it at the end but couldn't get that last shot."
"We knew they were going to have a punch at the end to try to get back in this thing, and they did, but we weathered the storm," Cornish said.
Gray led the ninth-seeded Colonels (21-6) with 22 points. Chris Gill had 21 and Tom Whipple added 15 before fouling out in the final minute.
Ledyard advances to the semifinals against fourth-seeded Watertown Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University.
Enfield, which had been the state's sole remaining undefeated team, saw its dream season end at 25-1, despite a 30-point effort by senior guard Trachone Preston, .
"We didn't make our goal, even though we tried," Preston said. "We weren't hitting our shots from behind the three-point line, but we came back, fought hard and gave 100 percent."
"He showed why he's the best player in the area," O'Connell said. "Some of those rebounds he got, he showed why he's our captain, our leader."
Last year, the Raiders made it to the semifinals with a starting lineup of all underclassmen, the same situation Ledyard is in this season.
"They have set a foundation that is going to be a very hard act to follow, but a good act to try to emulate," O'Connell said of his senior class of Preston, Hugh Lindo, Tony Romano, John Cerrato and Justin Thomas. "Over 70 wins in three seasons - it's pretty impressive what they accomplished, always being undersized, always being the team that doesn't look like much, but they continually fight. The fourth quarter personified what this team is all about - never giving up. I wish we could have been on the other side of the scoreboard, but unfortunately we weren't."
Ledyard - Jaquantee Reels 1 0 2, John Rainey 4 0 9, Tom Whipple 6 3 15, Chris Gill 9 3 21, Darney Gray 9 4 22. Totals 29 10 69.
Three-point goals: Rainey.
Enfield - Tony Romano 3 0 7, Hugh Lindo 7 1 15, Paul Lima 1 5 7, John Cerrato 1 0 2, Rachone Preston 3 0 6, Trachone Preston 8 12 30. Totals 23 18 67.
Three-point goals: T. Preston (2), Romano.
Score By Quarters
Ledyard 16 18 16 19 - 69
Enfield 21 7 15 24 - 67