CHAUMONT — Both Lyme girls basketball coach Mark Wilson and boys coach Leo Wilson needed to take a breather following their respective sectional wins Tuesday night.
The girls basketball team, seeded No. 4, began the doubleheader with a 48-37 victory over No. 5 Poland in the Section 3 Class D quarterfinal round and the second-seeded boys team finished the night with a 57-46 come-from-behind victory over No. 7 McGraw.
Isaiah Wilson received a pass from Jake Bombard in Lyme’s offensive zone and tucked the ball under his right arm, McGraw, accepting defeat, didn’t bother to try to swat it away.
With his left foot planted, Wilson pivoted to see the clock — seven seconds and counting. With his face pink and his mouth open, sucking in as much air as possible, the visibly exhausted senior lightly dribbled the ball four times before handing off to an official and gingerly walking over to his ecstatic bench. For the final four minutes of Lyme’s victory over the Eagles, the latest Wilson to don No. 44 played at a level that not even he had reached often this year.
“I saw the Isaiah that we haven’t seen a lot of this year because we haven’t had to see it a lot this year,” teammate Kyle Gaumes said. “That’s the Isaiah I saw last year at LaFargeville when we played him at LaFargeville and he had like 40 points. When you need something and you don’t know how to get it, Isaiah needs the ball. He’s not just going to create for himself, he’s going to create for others.”
Wilson finished with 27 points, 14 came in the fourth quarter.
With 4:15 left in the game, the Indians (20-1) were in an unfamiliar position. They were facing defeat. For almost the entire game the offense just wasn’t there for Lyme — shots didn’t fall while layups either bounced off the glass or were blocked before even getting there.
Then Wilson hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, making it 41-39 Eagles. A free throw on the other end made it 42-39 but Lyme had shown life. From then on, McGraw would manage only four more points, Lyme on the other hand put up a mind-boggling 18.
Wilson tied the game on back-to-back trips to the line where he hit 3 of 4 free throws. In the fourth quarter he finished with five points from the line.
With 3:03 left he found Gaumes on a fast break for the lead, 44-42. Gaumes finished with 14 points, seven in the fourth.
“If he makes a big play, get pumped and show him that you’re there for him, he means a lot to the team,” Wilson said of Gaumes. “Your adrenaline is going and you make a big play, he gets pumped for you. It’s just that back and forth, we feed off of each other.”
Back-to-back steals by Gaumes followed by a third by Wilson resulted in six more points for the Indians and a 50-42 lead.
Win or lose it was going to be Wilson’s last game in the cozy confines of Lyme’s gym.
“I don’t have anything left in the tank, this is my last year, if I don’t go out with it now, I don’t have another chance,” Wilson said. “In those last four minutes I just gave it everything I could.”
Despite planning to play in college, Wilson knows it won’t be the same as his high school gym where he spent five years playing varsity basketball.
When he peeked at the scoreboard to see seven seconds left on the clock, Wilson felt grateful.
“We all knew that wasn’t our typical game, we’re averaging somewhere around 80 points a game and we only had 57,” Wilson said. “Part of that is credit to McGraw, they played really good defense.”
McGraw (15-7) knew who they were up against and played up to the competition, something Lyme can expect for the rest of the postseason.
“They said, ‘this is what we needed,’ (the team) said that first,” Lyme coach Leo Wilson said. “And it is. Yeah, we had the two overtime wins with Copenhagen and we had the game versus Malone, but we weren’t tested other than that. We needed this, if I remember, I don’t think we’ve ever been down like that.”
The Indians advance to play Old Forge on Saturday in the semifinals at SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College.
Not wanting to freak his team out, Mark Wilson didn’t say much to his girls about the overall significance of Tuesday’s game. A trip to the sectional finals would be the farthest a Lyme’s girls basketball team had gotten in more than 30 years.
The girls had a slight idea, Olivia Ososkalo said she got chills this morning thinking about it.
After the time ran out and Lyme successfully held on for the quarterfinal win, Wilson swung his arms and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Like the boys, the Lyme girls (17-4) struggled to consistently score. Their success was based on their defense.
“We just had to maintain our aggressiveness on defense,” Mark Wilson said. “I thought our defense played well all night, especially in the first half, we held them to 15 points in the first half.”
For as many steals as the Indians produced, they gave away just as many turnovers. Lyme’s a team that’s used to playing fast, so getting them to slow was a challenge.
“That’s just their mentality, we ingrained in them that as soon as we rebound we want to push the ball up the court and we want to run and then all of sudden you have to tell them to slow down,” Wilson said. “Especially with such a young team, to try to get them to slow down after all year trying to push them to run, it’s hard.”
The Indians advance to play No. 1 Brookfield on Sunday in the Section 3 semifinal at Onondaga Community College.
Francesca Wilson added 13 points for Lyme against Poland (16-6).