Boys Basketball Takes on Sharon in DII South Semifinal

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

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

Matt Brownsword

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

 

Another season, another South Sectional Semifinal for Walpole High School.

Following in the footsteps of Baseball (last spring) and Girls Soccer, Boys Soccer, and Field Hockey (this fall), Boys Basketball reached the DII South Sectional Semifinals after beating Dartmouth and Westwood last week.

On Wednesday, March 5 at Brockton High, the Rebels will take on the Sharon Eagles, arguably the hottest team entering the semifinal after dismantling the seventh seeded Randolph and the second seed Whitman Hanson. The turnaround for the Eagles has been impressive, especially after losing four out of five games (including a 26 point loss to the 15 seed in the tournament, Oliver Ames) going into the tournament. However, the combination play of Sharon’s two 1,000 point scorers (a feat relatively unheard of for a high school team) Brian Mukasa and James Fritzon has catapulted the Eagles into the semifinal.

Fritzon’s 29 points against Whitman Hanson not only drew unfettered praise from his own coach but also the Panthers’ head coach, calling him the “best player [he’s] seen all year.” Along with Mukasa and sophomore Jordan Mello-Klein, Fritzon led Sharon to a decisive Davenport Title over Canton and OA.

However, Sharon has had their fair share of bad results as well — losses to OA, King Phillip (2nd to last in the Hockomock), and Canton — that slotted them into the 10 seed.

Walpole’s path to the semifinal has been far different than that of Sharon — after a regular season mired by close losses to strong Division I and II Bay State teams, the Rebels outlasted Dartmouth and squeaked by Westwood to even reach the semifinal. The Rebels have not established one 1,000 point scorer (never mind two) and the distribution of double digit scorers from game to game has varied. Seniors Adam Quinlan, Ryan Fogarty, and Scott Arsenault and juniors Chris Gallivan and Pat Donovan have all contributed in one game or another, with Fogarty and Quinlan being the closest thing the Rebels have to consistent scorers.

However, the two teams have been similar in terms of Points Allowed and Points Scored — Sharon has scored 70-plus points in seven games but has also given up 70-plus points in seven games, while the Rebels have given up 70+ in 5 and scored 70+ in 8. They key for Walpole will be holding the Eagles under 70 points (Sharon is only 8-6 in games in which they do not score 70 points, compared to 7-1 when they score 70+) while Sharon will try to take advantage of the fact that Walpole is only 1-4 in games in which the other team scores 70 or more points.

If the last five games are any indicator (Walpole is 4-1 and have not given up more than 70 points), then the balance seems to be shifting the Rebels’ way, but Mukasa and Fritzon will do everything in their power to reverse that trend and not allow Coach Dave St. Martin to reach his first ever South Sectional Final. If the Rebels were to win, it would be the second season in a row that a coach reached his first South Sectional Final (Lee Delaney for Boys Soccer) and it’d start to seem like another season, another milestone for Walpole Athletics.