Walpole Takes St. Martin Clash in Thrilling Fashion

A Walpole forward hits a free throw to seal the win.

A Walpole forward hits a free throw to seal the win.

Peter Hoegler

A Walpole forward hits a free throw to seal the win.
A Walpole forward hits a free throw to seal the win.

Before the game, all the hype was on Dave and Steve St. Martin, the brothers whose teams were clashing for the first time ever in the Division 2 State Tournament. After the game, though, all the talk was on the action that went to down on the court.

The underdog, No.11 Walpole, overcame everything the No.3 Westwood Wolverines threw at them, including a 13-0 run to start the game, to secure their first South Sectional Semi-final appearance since 2009. Boys Basketball, now 15-8, will take on another cross-town rival, Sharon, on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 at Brockton High School.

The game marked the first meeting between the St. Martin brothers on the sidelines. Dave is in his seventh year at Walpole High School and younger brother Steve, who was an assistant coach at Walpole until 2009, has revitalized Westwood in his first four years. But it’s hard to identify them as brothers. Steve, a former professional player, has black hair slicked back and was dressed in a sharp black suit with an even sharper green tie. On the other side, David sports the bald look and always wears tan khaki pants with a Walpole basketball pullover covering a blue shirt and tie.

“I grew up always competing with my brother on the basketball court. Everyone wants to beat their sibling,” said senior Captain Adam Quinlan, who finished with nine points and 16 rebounds. “We wanted to win this one for coach; we knew this meant a lot to him.”

From the opening tip, it was clear Walpole was confounded by the 1,300 in attendance. Westwood embraced the moment, however, and went on an 11-0 run to start the game by taking advantage of the Rebels’ turnovers and using tenacious defense.

“After a (13-1) start, I just looked at my guys and said, ‘It can’t be worse than that, so now let’s play.’” Dave St. Martin said. “We’ve been down all year so we were ready to be able to play against something like that.”

The Rebels calmed down after Dave St. Martin called the timeout and closed the quarter on a 11-2 run of their own. Senior Scott Arsenault knocked down a three-pointer with only a few seconds remaining on the clock, cutting Westwood’s lead to two (15-13).

Two of Westwood’s top players, Bo Berluti and Matt Allegrezza, were forced to the bench with two early fouls each–allowing Walpole to get back into the game. Senior Ryan Fogarty, who finished with a team-high 16 points, took full advantage of Westwood’s foul trouble and attacked the rim much more frequently. Fogarty scored 11 points in the second quarter–giving the Rebels a 31-27 lead heading into the locker room.

“We were down early so I took it upon myself to bring us back into it,” said Fogarty. “We started hitting our shots and getting much more aggressive.”

The two halves were like night in day: the first was marked by a lot of scoring and up-temp offense; the second, tenacious defense and unsightly offense. Walpole made only six field goals in the second half, and Westwood hit only seven but not nearly as many free throws.

“That’s the best defense against us, but we hold them to 46 points, I mean we played good defense too,” said Dave St. Martin. “We knew going into here it was going to be a brawl anyway out there.”

Westwood gained a little momentum in the third quarter, but Quinlan, who still had an injured ankle from Tuesday night’s game against Dartmouth,  scored off his own miss to give Walpole a 39-38 lead entering the fourth quarter. Between Quinlan and junior Chris Gallivan, any Westwood shot from inside the lane was contested, and often altered.

Quinlan opened the final quarter with two more field goals to extend the Walpole lead to seven, but Westwood’s Will Jessup, who finished with 16 points (14 in the second half) carried the Wolverines on his back–completing a three point play to get to within 46-43 with 3:13 to play. Jessup later tied the game at free throw line with 1:13 left.

On the ensuing possession, Jessup grabbed a long defensive rebound and took it the length of the floor for a layup, but the referee called an offensive foul on Jessup.

“That call could have gone either way,” said Quinlan. “Fortunately for us, we were going the other way with the score tied rather than down two.”

As he did in the second quarter, Fogarty went straight to the rim, muscling in a layup in a crowd on the left baseline with 35 seconds left for a 48-46 lead. Jessup tried to answer at the other way, but Quinlan got a piece of the shot and Gallivan grabbed the rebound and was quickly fouled. In one of the loudest stretches of any high school event in that gym, Gallivan (6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) made both free throws to make it a two-possession game and secure the win for Dave St. Martin.

The Rebels hope to continue their tournament run against Sharon in the South Sectional Semi-finals on Wednesday night. The last time Walpole made it farther than that, they won the State Championship.