By Matt Bosley
CLINTONVILLE - Spectators at this year's Hoops for Hope tournament were treated to an extremely high level of play from some of the best high school boys basketball teams from this area and beyond.
The tournament, which benefits both North Country Hospice and the ALS Foundation, featured the top teams from both the CVAC and MVAC as well as one of Vermont's perennial powerhouses.
First Round - Jan. 2
Harwood 46, Westport 45
In perhaps the most dramatic game of the tournament, MVAC-leading Westport was handed its first loss of the season with a heartbreaking last-second play.
Harwood, a school that graduates over 300 students each year and semi-finalists in last year's Vermont state championship, took an early lead as Eric Mackey scored 10 in the first half to help put the Highlanders ahead 23-17 at halftime.
The visitors would extend their lead to nine before the Eagles battled back, taking a 34-33 lead on a long-range jumper from Sean Davis with just under five minutes remaining.
The two teams would trade the lead for the remainder of the game as Harwood guard Steve LaRock traded scores with Westport's Bo McKinley and Nathan Gay.
Down by one with nine seconds remaining, Gay would connect on a go-ahead layup with three seconds left. However, on the ensuing play Mackey drew a foul on his last-second shot attempt and converted both free throws for the win.
Mackey was the leading scorer for Harwood with 14 and LaRock contributed 10.
McKinley finished with 16 points to go with four assists for the Eagles. Gay added 15 and 11 rebounds.
"I think we played a great game, both offensively and defensively," said Westport head coach Brad Rascoe. "We had a great second half; we came back, we did what we needed to do. It's just a learning experience. Hopefully, if we ever get in this situation again, we'll know exactly what to do, and the meaning of 'no foul' is engraved in their head a little more after this game."