T.C. Williams and West Springfield continued to redefine "down to the wire" last night in boys AAA Northern District play at West Springfield.

Seven of the last nine games between the schools have been decided by six points or less and four have gone overtime. This time, T.C. Williams came out on top, 70-69, thanks to the last-minute efforts of Ratcliff Thomas and Eric Gordon, who hit the game-winning free throw with three seconds left.

The Titans climbed to 4-3 in the district, 10-6 overall. The 10th-ranked Spartans dropped to 7-2 (behind W.T. Woodson) and 13-3.

After trailing by 11 in the third quarter, West Springfield appeared in control as Jerrick Hester hit a one-and-one to give the Spartans a 69-65 lead with 1:33 left. But Thomas twice drove the lane to score, tying the game at 69 with :37 left.

"Our plan was to go inside, but I felt like I could drive on my man {Ryan Contreras} and score or draw a foul," Thomas said.

The Spartans, who had successfully used a delay to work the clock -- and get off a shot -- in the first three quarters, employed the tactic again. But with 12 seconds left, panic set in as point guard Contreras dribbled into the right corner only to have Gordon pounce on him.

Gordon (20 points) swatted the ball loose and broke up the sideline before Contreras clipped him from behind. After a timeout, Gordon hit one free throw and missed the second. Time ran out as the Spartans managed only a desperation shot.

T.C. Williams relied on the shot-blocking of Kihlon Golden (five blocks) to extend a 42-40 halftime lead to 59-48 late in the third quarter. Twice Golden (14 points) rejected shots that were quickly converted into Titans baskets, including a dunk by Sean Roy.

But the Spartans closed to 59-53 as Jim Lyons hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. West Springfield continued its rally in the fourth as Jamie Warren (20 points) and Barry Stunson each scored twice inside.

"We thought we had the game won and began to slow down," Gordon said. "Coach {Jim Worden} told us to pick up our defense and go back to our inside game. We did and we won it."