Boys Basketball: Eastern Wayne Comeback Attempt Falls Short At East Carteret

Boys Basketball: Eastern Wayne Comeback Attempt Falls Short At East Carteret

Photo and article from Laieke Abebe

Despite trailing for most of its second-round playoff game at East Carteret, Eastern Wayne fought hard to have a chance in the final seconds. Unfortunately, the Warriors came up one possession short.

The Warriors had two shots to tie the game at the buzzer, but those chances went awry as they fell, 68-66 to the Mariners on Thursday. There were many moments of adversity for this Eastern Wayne team, but head coach Mike Gurganus couldn’t fault his team’s effort even in defeat.

“We had every opportunity to win it at the end,” he said. “They just made a few more shots and we have to give them credit. From how we started the season to now, I’m proud of my team. We started slow, but we never quit and it showed tonight.”

Senior duo Albert Brown and Julian Silvestri highlighted a strong start to the contest for the Warriors (12-15) with a pair of threes. However, the Mariners (16-5) had an answer early thanks to sophomores Shamel Baker and Charles Matheka.

The game was fast-paced with both teams getting good looks early, but the Warriors trailed by four after one. A three-point play by Brown got the visitors closer, but after that, the second quarter was dominated by the hosts.

East Carteret out-scored Eastern Wayne 18-9 over the final 6:15 of the first half. A three from Baker gave the Mariners a 12-point lead at the break.

Despite going down by as many as 15 in the third quarter, the Warriors showed a lot of fight to stay close. Silvestri hit three triples in the third quarter to bring the deficit down to single digits. Dowan Hodges and Alijah Brown also hit important buckets as Eastern Wayne went to the fourth quarter down seven.

“We started to buy in as a team,” Gurganus said about his team’s success in the second half of the season. “Our chemistry was there and things began to click. The seniors showed a lot of leadership and we were able to start finding consistency.”

However, things began to look bleak for the road team in the final minutes. They trailed by 12 with less than two minutes left and it seemed like the Mariners had an answer for every run.

Despite that, the Warriors persevered and fought back again. Albert Brown hit a three to cut it to nine with 1:29 left, a steal and another three from Silvestri made it a six-point deficit.

East Carteret responded with a Cole Jernigan layup, but Silvestri hit another jumper with under a minute to go. Jernigan missed a three with 30 seconds left and a jump ball gave it back to the Warriors.

Down five, Albert Brown hit a contested three to cut it to two with nine seconds left. Then, chaos and drama ensued for what was a frantic finish.

The Mariners turned the ball over off the inbounds pass giving the Warriors a chance to tie or even win the contest miraculously, but it wasn’t meant to be. Browns mid-range jumper was too long and the put-back by Silvestri missed by inches as time expired sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Eastern Wayne remained on the court for a few minutes thinking a foul was called. In the end, their comeback attempt fell just short despite their efforts. 

“I’m going to miss this senior group,” Gurganus said. As the season progressed, they’ve matured and become better leaders. I’m really proud of what they were able to do for this program.”