CHESHIRE -- They might not have been on the court playing against each other, but for the final 25 seconds Bill Robinson and Jack Racette went head to head Friday night.
In the end it was Robinson's Hoosac Valley boys' basketball team that was able to hang on, beating Racette's Drury Blue Devils 43-42.
"It was just a chess match at the end," Robinson said. "With 21 seconds to go, I came over and said, ‘Guys we're going to go to a soft trap, and then we're going to drop into a zone.' "
When Drury's Nolan Bird took the ball across center court with his team trailing by one point, it didn't take long for Racette to recognize the zone coverage and he called for a timeout.
The two coaches exchanged a quick glance and dove back into their huddles to draw up new plays. As the their players jogged back on the court for the final play, the duo shook hands at center court and shared a laugh as they prepared to watch the play unfold.
"It's always great to compete with them and Jack is a great coach," Robinson said. "We've had great ballgames over the past few years. As ugly as the score looks, they're just competitive as hell and it's always fun."
Robinson's opinion may have swayed on how fun the game was had the Blue Devils found a way to pull off the final play.
Bird got a clean look at the basket with about eight seconds to play but his shot fell short. Kareen Beckett scooped up the rebound, but his shot scraped the bottom of the net and fell into Andrew Milesi's arms. He fell out of bounds and the Blue Devils got one more crack at it.
Drury again got the ball to Bird, but Milesi was able to step up on him and kept a hand in his face. The shot bounced off the rim and Hoosac clinched the win.
"We got the ball to Bird eight feet from the basket," Racette said. "You can't get it much better than that. I know defenders were on him, but there was three seconds to play and we got the ball in our best guys' hands.
"But it wasn't that play. It was a combination of plays. They made shots when they had to and we missed them."
Matt Braman hit the game-winning shot for the Hurricanes. His jumper from just inside the foul line gave his team a lead they never relinquished with just over a minute to play.
It wasn't the offense that won the game for Hoosac, however.
"I thought our defense really stepped up," Braman said. "We've been working hard on it and we really had to play good defense to keep them to a low score."
Isiah Pantoja put in 17 points for the Blue Devils, but was the only member of his team to hit double digits. Bird entered the game averaging 18 points. He was held scoreless for the first three quarters and finished the game with just five points.
"Pantoja just went off," Robinson said. "He had a tremendous game. Just a tremendous game. So yea, we did a nice job on [Bird], but Pantoja stepped up."
Trevor Alibozek led the way for the Hurricanes. He scored 17 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Braman finished with 12 points. Alibozek led the way for the Hurricanes on the boards, recording seven.
"We just put some pressure on the ball and we really boxed out well, especially late," Alibozek said. "We really came out going hard in the first half. It got our momentum going for us."
Alibozek played a key role in securing the momentum in the first half for the Hurricanes.
The 6-foot-5 forward pulled down an errant 3-point attempt and tossed the ball back into the hoop as time expired in the first quarter. He was also fouled and hit the shot to cap off the first-quarter scoring, giving his team a 13-9 edge.
Braman hit a shot with three seconds to play in the half that gave the Hurricanes an equally large boost.
"We got a lot of momentum going into the locker room there," Alibozek said. "It really kind of gave us that spark that we needed."
Check out all the play-by-play action from Friday night's game on our Sports Blog.