BEVERLY, Mass. -- Brewster Academy rallied from a double digit second half deficit and knocked down critical late game free throws in an 85-83 victory over second seeded Maine Central Institute on Wednesday afternoon at the NEPSAC quarterfinals.
The game seemed to turn on a missed shot. With MCI leading by 10, Mike Tuck's three pointer went in and out. Brewster's Deion James hit a jumper at the other end, slicing the deficit to 70-62 with seven minutes to play.
The sudden five point swing in momentum seemed to energize Brewster, who went on a scintillating 19-4 run to grab a 79-74 lead with 1:40 to play. James and 6-6 junior swingman Norman Plummer were exceptional in the spurt, combining for 17 of the Bobcats' 19 points.
Back to back three point plays by both Plummer and James gave Brewster the lead for good at 78-74, and Plummer capped the run by hitting one of two free throws with 1:40 to play.
MCI pulled to within 82-81 on a pair of free throws from Franklin Robinson with 36.5 seconds left, but James and Smith hit four of four free throws over the final 17.5 seconds to salt the game's outcome.
Between James' and Smith's free throws, Robinson and Rekalin Sims each missed three pointers that could have knotted the game at 83.
James scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half to spearhead the Brewster comeback. Four other Bobcats -- Cincinnati-bound Mike Pilgrim (14 points), Blake Schilb (13 points), Smith (12 points) and Plummer (12 points) hit for double figures.
"I am most proud of Deion because he's a guy who has come a long way this year in terms of maturity and leadership," Brewster Head Coach Jason Smith said. "During the time out when we were down 11 points, he was very positive and picking everyone else up."
"We just battled and played hard down the stretch and refused to lose," Smith concluded.
MCI led 35-34 at the break as the teams traded baskets for much of the first half. The Huskies did a great job of getting to the basket and finishing, thanks to Cal signee Marquis Kately and unsigned guard Robinson.
Kately and Robinson combined for 20 second half points as MCI opened up several 10 point leads in the second half. Kately finished with 18 points and Robinson 14 points.
Forward Rekalin Sims tallied 15 points and center Kieron Achara (Duquesne) also hit for double figures with 14 points.
Brewster extended its season by at least another game with the win. The Bobcats will now face the Winchendon School on Friday evening at 6 p.m. at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., in the NEPSAC semis.