Boys Basketball Falls to Newton North 55-51 in Home Opener

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David Moser

Walpole Boys Basketball lost to Bay State opponents Newton North by a score of 51-55 on December 15. Going into the game, the Rebels knew the game would not be easy because Walpole had not beaten Newton North since the Rebels’ 2004 undefeated season.

Defensively, Newton North’s method of switching on every screen while on defense was a problem for Walpole. The Tigers also doubled up on Walpole’s top scorer, senior captain Kenny Uhlar.

Uhlar had the first two baskets of the game for Walpole, but as the quarter went on, and Walpole’s offense struggled, junior forward James Randall and sophomore guards Trey Wilkes and Aidan Chariton subbed out starters, senior guards Andrew Noyes, Kyle Healy, and junior guard Luke Esty.

Newton North played a full court press, which clearly frustrated Walpole, because the team had eight turnovers alone in the first quarter.  As the turnovers piled up, Walpole called a timeout at 2:31 left in the first quarter. Uhlar had all of Walpole’s points up to this point in the game.

“The team was upset we started so poorly, but we were not out of it,” said Randall. “We were confident we could step up and play harder.”

As the second quarter went on, Newton North continued with their full court press of Walpole and forced the Rebels into foul trouble.

Even though Walpole’s offense was unsuccessful, their defense did its job, for the score was only 11-19 halfway through the second.  Two baskets later, Walpole got closer to evening the score, but then a Newton North run put six more points on the board, and Walpole quickly trailed by ten again. Walpole called a timeout with 2:42 left in the half, but that did not help. For right after play resumed, Newton North nailed a three to stop Walpole’s momentum.

The third quarter did not start off much better either, for Walpole started off with two turnovers and Newton North’s first drive resulted with a floater from behind the arc. As time went on, the Rebels continued to have problems, and there was another turnover.  Again, Newton North took the ball down the court for two more points; the Rebels called a timeout at 5:40 with the score at 15-34.

Down 19, Walpole appeared out of the game.

Fortunately, that was not the case for the Rebels as spirits in the gym began to pick up. Sophomore guard Trey Wilkes notched a three pointer right after the timeout ended.  Not only did the Walpole bench’s spirit get revived, but so did the crowd.  Some missed calls – as with the Tiger’s captain, senior Nate Hollenberg, who appeared to travel from half-court to the hoop – livened up the crowd.  

What happened next only added to the oncoming sense of a comeback for Walpole.

Junior guard Ike Shephard took the ball to the rim for two and then hit an and-one. Holding the momentum from their run at the end of the 3rd, the Rebels entered into the fourth and final quarter of the game trailing 25-39.

“Our team was determined to win,” said Shephard.

Next, the Rebels had three straight threes – all of which made the gym go nuts. Shephard hit a three, and then after a turnover, Esty dropped  another three.  The score was now 35-46 with 3:24 left in the game. Captain Uhlar then got a stop on defense that sent Wilkes down the court. Wilkes sent up a shot from the three point line and hit it. The score was 38-48, and Walpole’s run forced a Newton North timeout.

All of a sudden, there was a feeling that the 10-point deficit was surmountable.

After play resumed, on their second drive down the court, captain Uhlar had an up-and-under layup for two points.  There was only a minute and 26 left on the clock, and Shephard then intentionally fouled in an attempt to regain possession for the Rebels. However, the foul was Shepherd’s fifth, which meant he was done for the night.

Luckily, the Tigers missed their bonus foul shots and senior Andrew Noyes then took the ball to the net for two. Immediately, Walpole head coach David St. Martin called a timeout, with the score at 45-50 with 32 second left on the wall.

After that, once Newton North inbounded the ball, junior James Randall intentionally fouled, but unfortunately, the Tigers hit both of their free throws.  Walpole came right back with a floater from Esty, and the score was 47-52.  Esty then intentionally fouled Newton North once the ball was inbounded, and the Tigers missed both free throw shots.

After being unable to score on their next three possessions, Walpole was down 48-55 with six ticks left on the clock. The Rebels’ comeback fell short, but Trey Wilkes hit a half-court prayer to cut the deficit to four at the buzzer. The game ended with Walpole falling to the Tigers 51-55. 

“It was unfortunate that there was not more time,” Shephard added. “We could have come out with the win.”