–A.J. Pricehit a three-pointer to tie the game and danced down the court, laughing and clapping as he stared at the opponents' bench.
Ryan Gomes, driving through the lane, put in an outrageous finger roll and drew a foul. Now it was his turn to laugh and celebrate. It was that kind of day at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am on Sunday, with NBA veterans such as Gomes and Price, who have been on bigger stages, getting caught up in the emotion of the league's semifinals.
"It doesn't matter if you're playing at the YMCA with no refs," said Gomes, 29, from Waterbury. "You're a competitor and you want to win. A.J. was hitting a lot of shots. It took me a little while [to get into it], but the fourth quarter — that's winning time."
Gomes prevailed, hitting two free throws with 4.2 seconds left to seal Harte Nissan's 106-102 victory over the Doc Hurley Scholars.
Gomes and Harte Nissan will play the Recycle King Naughty Boyz in a best-of three-series for the title beginning Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Classical Magnet School.
"I'll be here," Gomes said. "We're in the finals — I've got to be here."
Gomes had 22 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals in the game, turning it up several notches down the stretch to match the intensity of Price, who scored 38. Soon after Gomes checked in, Harte opened a 37-23 lead. Doc Hurley's squad pecked away and took the lead on Ryan Olander's put-back at the end of the third quarter.
Harte trailed by seven, but surged back as Gomes hit a long three-pointer to ignite a 7-0 run. Then Doc Hurley opened up a 10-point lead with just under 4 minutes to go, and Harte surged back again. Keith Cothran, who had 24 points, made a clutch shot to tie it at 106 with 21 seconds left. Lamonte Ulmer, who scored 26, put Harte ahead for good with a drive through the lane.
But Gomes, who was taking charge in the huddle and on the floor, grabbed the key rebound and drew a foul to put the game away.
Anthony Malhoit had 16 points and 16 rebounds for Doc Hurley.
Gomes, who turns 30 on Sept. 1, is not sure where he will be when NBA camps open next month. The Clippers used their amnesty option to waive Gomes in July and free up cap money. He will be paid his full $4 million salary, but he is now a free agent looking for a new team. Atlanta, New Orleans, Cleveland and Charlotte have shown interest in Gomes, 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, who can play either forward position.
"Being an East Coast guy, of course I would like to play for the Celtics or the Knicks, or Brooklyn," Gomes said. "But wherever I go, as long as I get the chance to keep doing what I love to do, to play basketball and have fun, it will be fine. I know I'll end up somewhere. I can bring leadership and a hardworking attitude. I've started a lot of games. I'd like to play with a contending team, but if it's a young team that's rebuilding, I can help. I have seen a lot."
Off the court, Gomes continues efforts to raise awareness and prevention for sudden cardiac arrest in sports. His Hoops for Heart Health was established in 2005 in memory of a friend, Stanley Myers, who died during a training session.
"We're moving in the right direction," said Gomes, whose efforts have helped install 85 defibrillators, many in Connecticut, the past five years. "We're trying to make this a healthy state. I think more people are aware of it; they hear about the incidents, and they hear about the saves."
In the other semifinal, Doug Wiggins scored 29, Jerome Dyson had 25 and Kuran Iverson — who visited UConn last week — had 24 to lead Recycle King to a 128-109 victory, eliminating Simoniz CBC. Greg Langston scored 31 for CBC.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times