By Eli Hearne (Boys Basketball Reporter).
WILMINGTON, MASS—While many were traveling to warmer places or hitting the slopes for some fun skiing and snowboarding, the Sharon High School Boys Basketball Team was grinding on the court.
As the Eagles are underdogs in many of their games this season, these tournament games are important to win.
On December 27th, the boys traveled to Wilmington High to take on Arlington-Catholic in the first of their two game tournament.
The major storyline of this game was pressure. Although the Eagles appeared to be more skilled, Arlington-Catholic stuck around the entire game.
In the first quarter, the Eagles’ struggles of rebounding were highlighted as Arlington-Catholic was able to control many offensive boards, giving them second and sometimes even third chances. Lucky for Sharon, Arlington-Catholic was often unable to capitalize on the Eagles inability to rebound. The Eagles were able to get out to an early 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter showed more promise for the Eagles with junior Jimmy Fitzhenry and sophomore Alex Kaufmann both hitting from three. But the Eagles were unable to transfer Arlington-Catholic turnovers into points, allowing Arlington-Catholic to cut down the Eagles lead to four at the end of the second.
At halftime, the Eagles made the necessary adjustments and turned up the pressure. Although Arlington-Catholic hit two big threes to keep them in the game, two layups from senior Ricardo Ripley off of turnovers created by a tenacious press, as well as an overall increase in intensity from Sharon extended the Eagles lead to seven at the end of three (33-26).
The intensity and pressure established in the third quarter carried into the fourth. An easy basket and a knock down jumper at the free-throw line by Fitzhenry put the Eagles up 10, but Arlington-Catholic battled back. Five unanswered brought Arlington-Catholic within five with just under six minutes to play (37-32). Yet the Eagles were able to once again extend their lead back to 10 with a layup by junior Malik Lorquet and a three by Ripley. The Eagles press forced more turnovers and layups from both Ripley and junior Jayvon Monteiro put the Eagles up 14 (46-32). Sharon held onto their lead and coasted to what was not the prettiest 19-point win.
This win meant that the Eagles would face Tewksbury in the championship the next day, December 28th.
The Eagles looked to have that intensity present in the final two quarters against Arlington-Catholic throughout the entirety of the game versus Tewksbury.
The Eagles were able to take an early lead with two layups from Ricardo Ripley (16 points), a free throw form Malik Lorquet, and a jumper from Jimmy Fitzhenry, ultimately putting the Eagles up 7-4 at the end of a sloppy first quarter.
The second quarter was back and forth. The Eagles went on a run to start the second. Seniors Danny Emerman and Tommy Modelevsky came off the bench and provided a spark with a pull-up jumper from Emerman and a corner three from Modelevsky. These baskets combined with a free throw from Ben Grady and a three from Ricardo Ripley put the Eagles up nine, 15-6. Yet Tewksbury battled back with a run of their own, and cut the lead down to two, 16-14. Then the Eagles fed big-man Malik Lorquet the ball and allowed him to do the rest scoring six straight points for the Eagles. Yet the inability for the Eagles to make big stops on defense hurt them. As Lorquet was having his way with the Tewksbury bigs, Sharon couldn’t stop Tewksbury’s offense, eventually leading to a tie game going into half, 26-26.
In the third quarter Tewksbury began to pull away. Although the beginning was back and forth with a three and a pair of free throws from Ripley to answer six points from Tewksbury put the Eagles down one. Then Tewksbury pulled away. A layup and an traditional three point play as well as a three pointer put them up nine with 3:53 left to play. A layup by Alex Kaufmann and an and-one by Lorquet brought the Eagles within four before two threes by Tewksbury, split by a Sharon three pointer from Alex Kaufmann, dug the Eagles into a seven point deficit at the end of three (46-39).
The Eagles played with grit throughout the fourth. A layup by Ripley and another layup by Kaufmann after fighting for the offense rebound brought the Eagles within four with less than four minutes to play. Yet a baseline floater and a clutch three pointer from Tewksbury put them up nine. The Eagles were unable to get key defensive stops and rebounds in crunch-time, ultimately causing Sharon to lose 47-58.
The Eagles split the out-of-league holiday tournament 1-1, picking up one key victory on their path to 10 wins. Although the Eagles may not have played as well as they wanted to, senior Ricardo Ripley and junior Malik Lorquet shined throughout the tournament as they were named to the Wilmington all-tournament team, and the Eagles continue to discover their identity as a fast-paced, athletic team.