Rebels Stay Unbeaten in Overtime Victory Over Natick

Senior guard Phil Ogbaegbe pushes the fast break against Natick.

Senior guard Phil Ogbaegbe pushes the fast break against Natick.

James Cullinane

Senior guard Phil Ogbaegbe pushes the fast break against Natick.

Last season, the Walpole Rebels Boys Basketball Team squared off against division rivals, Natick Red and Blue, twice during their 20 game regular season.  In their first meeting, the Red and Blue won handily over the Rebels by a score of 55-44.   A month later, the scrappy Rebels welcomed Natick for a rematch, playing an energized game, taking the Red and Blue to overtime before once again coming up nine points short.  The 2010-2011 Rebels have improved significantly since last season and looked for revenge on Tuesday December, 21, 2010, as they hosted their bitter rivals in their home opener.

From the opening tip off, the Rebels and Red and Blue traded buckets.  In a turnover dominated first quarter, senior Captains Mike Tempesta and Tim Gallivan provided most of the Rebel offense, predominantly playing a two man pick and role.  This senior tandem went back and fourth with Natick Captains Andrew Siden and James Levine.  The Red and Blue led by a lead of 13-12 at the end of the quarter.

For the Rebels, the second quarter would not be one to remember.  Walpole’s offensive attack continued to struggle, adding only a single bucket in the entire period.  For most teams, such a poor scoring effort before halftime would be devastating, but against a defense oriented Walpole team, Natick’s offense could not clique, consistently turning the ball over.  The frustration of both Natick and Walpole coaching staffs was made evident through body language, it felt as though each team was looking to give their opponents an advantage.  Going into halftime, the Rebels trailed by a score of 21-14.

Natick continued to build momentum immediately after the opening of the second half as Levine buried a three on their first possession, pushing the score to 24-14 in favor of the Red and Blue.  At this point, Gallivan began to assert himself in the paint, going up strong after an offensive rebound and finishing despite being fouled.  After Gallivan knocked down the free throw, the Rebels trailed 24-17.  After a steal by sophomore Johnny Adams, senior Dan McGovern converted a contested layup in the face of Natick senior Liam Porter.  After another defensive stop, Tempesta knocked down a pull up three to bring the rallying Rebels within 2 points of the lead.  Gallivan then brought his intensity to the defensive side of the ball, rejecting Siden at the rim and dishing an outlet pass to Tempesta, who once again hit a pretty jumper, this time giving the Rebels the lead.  Furthering this shift in momentum was McGovern taking a charge against an over aggressive Natick forward.  Gallivan and sophomore Chris Collins cleaned up the offensive glass in the third quarter, each with put backs before the third quarter expired with the Rebels leading 29-26.

Similarly to the first quarter, the Rebels and the Red and Blue played a very evenly matched fourth quarter.  24 seconds into the fourth quarter, Natick junior Bobby Scribner knocked down a clutch jump shot to bring the Red and Blue within a point of the Rebel lead.  Collins continued to shine into the fourth quarter, rebounding and doing his best to shut down Siden.  McGovern converted a difficult three point play after being fouled hard in the paint.  Walpole also accepted a key contribution from senior Eric Stoller, who spared junior Tom Donnellan for minutes at a time throughout the game.  After a Stoller lay in, Siden and Levine each knocked down shots to once again cut the Rebel lead to 1.  With only 26.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Levine fired up a three from the corner, putting the Red and Blue on top 41-39.  Following Levine’s clutch shot, the Rebels looked to their Captain, Mike Tempesta, who dropped in a floater with 8.1 seconds remaining, tying the score at 41.  Levine’s last ditch effort came up a foot or two short, bringing this back and forth battle into overtime.

The overtime period lived up to the “nail biter” atmosphere in the Walpole gym.  Behind buckets from Gallivan and Tempesta, the Rebels jumped out to a 46-42 lead.  Just as the Rebels found themselves pulling away from the Red and Blue, Levine once again displayed his clutch ability, dropping a deep three to bring the Walpole lead to merely one point.  With 17.2 seconds remaining, Levine rimmed out on a floater from the top of the key, as the ball came clinging off the rim and into the hands of Gallivan, who was immediately fouled intentionally.  Showcasing a clutch ability of his own, Gallivan knocked down both free throws, effectively icing the game for the Rebels.  The Rebels avenged last season’s losses to Natick, while improving to 2-0, with a 48-45 overtime victory.

The upstart Rebels will look to improve to 3-0 in the Bellingham tournament in an opening round match up with Milford.