St. Martin’s Rebels Show Improvement Despite Loss to Newton North


James Cullinane


St. Martin's Rebels Show Improvement Despite Loss to Newton North
Despite making strides against the Tigers, Walpole dropped to 1-4 in Tuesday night's league match up.


During the Rebel boys basketball preseason, fifth year head coach David St. Martin stated that his goal was to take the Walpole basketball program to the “next level”, the same level that the Rebels dominated during their undefeated 2004 campaign.  Judging from the early goings of the 2011-2012 season, which saw the Rebels begin their season with a 1-3 record, St. Martin’s goal appears to be a work in progress.

St. Martin’s Rebel squad welcomed the new year, along with a Bay State power in Newton North, on January 3, 2012 at home, looking to improve on their slow start to the season.  Unfortunately for the inexperienced Rebels, who returned only three varsity players from their 12-9 2010-2011 team, they did not have enough depth to stifle the undefeated Tigers, who came away victorious by a score of 58-44.

Despite the Tigers’ large margin of victory, the Rebels showed undeniable improvement since their last match up, a 64-38 shellacking at the hands of Milford.  This improvement was showcased vividly in the first quarter, as the Rebels hung with their daunting opponents.  After a fast start behind four points from senior Captain Tom Donnellan, the Rebels fell behind the Tigers by a score of 16-8, as Newton North Captain Luke Westman continually found holes in the Rebel defense.  However, St. Martin’s Rebels proved resilient as they fought their way back to within three behind buckets from senior Brian Lotsbom, junior Captain Johnny Adams, and sophomore spark plug Scott Arsenault.  The first quarter ended with the Rebels trailing the Tigers 17-14.

Much like the first, the second quarter was a back and forth battle, with both teams going on impressive runs.  Newton’s highly talented offense started off the quarter clicking on all cylinders, jumping out to a 23-14 advantage with 6:03 remaining.  However, the Rebels would retaliate behind Arsenault, Lotsbom, and senior center Tim Merrigan.  Merrigan, who took over the center position from junior Chris Collins after his departure from the team, has been a bright spot for the Rebels this year, making great strides since his junior season, in which he spent the majority of his time on the Junior Varsity team. Despite these Rebel efforts, the Tigers went on a run of their own, ending the second quarter leading by a score of 29-24 behind Westerman and the skilled Tigers supporting cast.

After St. Martin and Newton North head coach Paul Connolly made their respective adjustments at the half, the third quarter went underway.  Walpole’s lack of depth, specifically at the center position, would begin to show in the third when Merrigan swiftly found himself in foul trouble.  St. Martin adjusted accordingly, initially going to sophomore Nick Cordopatri off the bench, and later trying to beat the Tigers by playing small ball.  Unfortunately for the Rebels, these efforts failed to keep the North offense in check, as a variety of Tigers continued to do damage on the offensive end of the court.  Arsenault kept the Rebels in striking distance going into the fourth quarter by knocking down two clutch three pointers in the latter stages of the third, one of which came with five seconds remaining in the quarter.  Behind Arsenault’s precise perimeter game, the Rebels entered the fourth quarter trailing by a score of 44-36, a defecit that had the potential to be much greater.

Donnellan, Arsenault, and Rebel court general Adams did everything in their power to close the gap during the fourth quarter, but North’s relentless offensive attack, along with their tenacious defense, was simply too much for the Rebels to handle.  Despite notable hustle plays by Rebel Captains Donnellan, Adams, and Tim Conley, the Tigers broke away in dominant fashion.  Following a put-back on the offensive glass by North junior Seamus Bruno, the Tigers went on an 8-2 run, increasing their lead to 17 points.  Time expired with the Rebels on the losing end once again, this time by a score of 58-44.

Following the game, Donnellan commented on his team’s performance, saying “We obviously didn’t get the outcome we were looking for and that’s always frustrating.  It’s hard to see positives at this point, but I know that everyone left it all out there tonight.  If we keep doing that, we’ll continue to grow as a team.”

Donnellan, along with Adams and Aresenault, who led the Rebels in scoring with 14 points, all had strong performances against Newton North and will look to build off of this game in their next contest against Brookline on Friday.