With 1 minute and 16 seconds remaining in regulation of the Boston City League Championship game on Friday night, the game’s eventual hero was in line to be its goat. East Boston junior forward Kenny Ramos stepped up to the free throw line trailing Madison Park, 47-45, and blew both tries.
“He missed those free throws right there and he’s a warrior so I knew he was going to come back and do something,” East Boston coach Malcolm Smith said.
Ramos did all that and then some by hitting the winning shot in the 60-59 overtime victory to collect the tournament MVP trophy.
“It’s all about confidence,” Ramos said after finishing with a team-high 16 points. “Basketball is a game of confidence. You can never get down on yourself. My teammates never got down on me, my coaches never get down on me, they always tell me to take a shot when it’s there.
“I saw it was there and I just kept playing. Every time I hit a shot I felt like the basket got bigger and that’s why I kept scoring the ball.”
He started immediately after those missed free throws. Senior guard Kyle Fox snagged the rebound on the second miss that eventually led to Ramos’s redeeming game-tying layup.
Thirty seconds later, MP took a 50-47 lead after scoring on a goal tending call and a free throw before Eastie senior guard Zack Gattereau nailed the 3-pointer to tie the game with 6.4 seconds to play.
Ramos, who finished with a team-high 16 points, intercepted MP’s ensuing baseball pass. But that wasn’t what led to his ultimate heroics as East Boston turned the ball over itself and Madison Park missed a layup at the buzzer that allowed for overtime.
But when the extra session started MP jumped out to a four-point lead and it seemed like MP senior captain Rayshawn Matthews (8 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds) and O’Shea Joy (17 points, six rebounds) and David Stewart (10 points, six rebounds) would be celebrating in the winner’s circle.
Then, MP center Dakim Murray (18 points, 11 rebounds) fouled out of the game by sending Ramos to the free throw line, where he nailed them both with 2:54 to play. Ramos scored on the Jets’ next to possessions to tie the game at 54 and then at 56.
Once again it seemed like someone else would be the hero when MP’s Joy drained a 3-pointer with 1:01 left to go up 59-56. Will March put Eastie within one on his putback bucket with 34 seconds on the clock.
Fox stole the ball from MP but missed a 3-pointer. His teammates missed two offensive put backs before the ball fell into Ramos’s hands. Ramos missed his own putback before putting down the winning bucket with about three seconds remaining.
“That last play was just crazy,” Ramos said. “I just never gave up. That’s East Boston basketball at its finest right there, those last eight seconds of the ballgame.
“This game was just so big for the seniors, for the coaches, for the type of year we’ve been having so I had to do my best to get the ball, put the ball in and try to win it for my team.”
And while Ramos finished the game with 10 rebounds, Smith said he had to convince Ramos going into the game that mopping up misses under the bucket was where Eastie needed him most.
“We were arguing all week, he wanted to drift out to the wing,” Smith said. “But I told him man ‘The way you have to eat on this team is get on these boards.’”