Boys Basketball Clinches State Tournament Berth

Walpole%27s+center+scores+over+a+Wellesley+defender.

Walpole’s center scores over a Wellesley defender.

Peter Hoegler

Walpole's center scores over a Wellesley defender.
Walpole’s center scores over a Wellesley defender.

Boys Basketball has been on a tear lately, winning five straight games against five formidable Bay State League opponents: Weymouth, Framingham, Wellesley, Milton, and Dedham. To endorse their recent success, the Boys called for an official “whiteout” to attract the student body to attend the much-anticipated showdown against the Wellesley Raiders on Friday, February 1.  The large crowd proved vital at game’s end as the Rebels were able to channel the spectator’s encouragement and defeat the Raiders 55-50 in the final minutes.  Walpole then went on to take care of business against Milton and Dedham to achieve their ultimate season goal: a state tournament berth.

David St. Martin— head coach of the Boys Basketball team—said, “I knew these kids really wanted to win, but the first 11 games of the season were just mediocre. In the past few weeks, we have really been focusing on just playing hard for 32 minutes, hoping the results will come.”

The Rebels have definitely found the results they have been searching for all season. Walpole entered Friday night’s matchup with this mentality: work hard for the entire 32 minutes and the final score will speak for itself; however, for the upper-classmen that were on the team last season, there was revenge at stake. Wellesley took full advantage of Walpole’s ‘rebuilding’ year last season, defeating the Rebels by an average score of 20 points both games. So, it was necessary for seasoned-veterans such as senior Captains Johnny Adams and Ronni Shephard to sweep the season series and have a little retribution on the proficient Herget foe.

“I have been on this team four years, and every year Wellesley gives us a tough game,” said Adams. “We defeated Wellesley pretty handily at their gym (61-43), and they were coming in on a hot streak, so we knew this was going to be a close one.”

On Friday night, the Walpole High School gymnasium was truly packed; many fans were even forced to stand in the corners, waiting for a single seat to be left unattended. The Rebels took full advantage of the home-court privileges, using a quick run to start the game and building a lead that they never relinquished; when it appeared they might be on the ropes, Walpole created a bit more separation before hanging on for a 55-50 win.

At the end of the first half, Walpole allowed Wellesley to cling to a six point deficit.  The Raiders had opened the game lethargically, but a few buckets from Captain Matt Lawrence gave Wellesley the capability to creep back into the game.

In the third quarter, Walpole and Wellesley continued to trade baskets—making the game very entertaining for the large crowd in attendance. Juniors Adam Quinlan and Mo Young led the way in the third quarter with brilliant post moves and clutch rebounds. Entering the fourth quarter, the Rebels led 40-37.

Adams opened the fourth with a momentous three-point shot from the left-corner to give the Rebels the lead at 45-42, but after several defensive stops and back-to-back lay-ups, the Raider trailed by one point with only a few minutes to play. Once Mo Young stole the inbound pass and Adams hit two pressured free-throws, the Boys took the lead with 16 seconds left in the game. Wellesley’s guard Mack Jones put up a fade away three in the final seconds, but missed and the Rebels took the victory 55-50.

The Rebels augmented their win streak to five games against two Herget adversaries—Milton and Dedham—on Tuesday and Thursday of last week. Juniors Adam Quinlan and Ryan Fogarty recorded impressive statistics in both contests and Adams led the Rebels at the point guard position with double-digit assists. Now that Walpole has clinched a state tournament bid, Coach St. Martin can officially say that he has restored his Rebels into a winning program. “But, we can still play a little bit better,” said St. Martin. “I don’t think you’ll see our greatest potential until we get a few games into the state tournament.”