A superlative basketball season for the boys varsity came to a close on Sunday with a nail-biting 84-79 loss to Loomis in the New England Class A championship game.
The finals game was a nip-and-tuck affair between the top two seeded teams, with neither team holding a double-digit lead at any point. The score was tied 79-79 with 1:28 to play before Loomis hit two free throws and then iced the game from the line.
Five players finished in double figures for the Bearcats (24-4), including Dusan Neskovic ’20 (21 pts.), Myles Brewster ’20 (19 pts.), Vasja Pandza ’20 (12 pts.), C.J. Mitchell ’21 (11 pts.), and Kyle Jenkins ’20 (10 pts.). Neskovic and Jenkins also led the team with six rebounds each.
Hotchkiss held small leads in the early going before Loomis regained the lead with four minutes to play in the first half. A lay-in by Brewster with under 30 seconds to play tied the game again at 42-42 before a Loomis player hit a dunk in the final seconds for a 44-42 halftime lead.
In the second half, Loomis jumped out to an early 58-53 lead, which grew to 63-55, the largest lead on the day for either team, with just under 10 minutes remaining. The Bearcats countered immediately with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the margin to a single point.
Afterwards, Loomis nursed a small lead for the remainder of the second half before Brewster hit another clutch lay-up to tie the game at 79-79 with 1:52 remaining.
On Saturday, there was much less drama, as the Bearcats produced a dominant 80-63 semifinal win over #6 Andover. Leading the way for Hotchkiss was Jenkins with 22 points, and Pandza (19 pts.), Neskovic (11 pts.), and Mitchell (10 pts.) also finished in double figures.
The semifinal was a milestone game for Jenkins and the program, as he scored his 1,000th point in a Hotchkiss uniform.