By Danny Emerman (Sports Correspondent).
Tyler Smith inbounded it from the sideline to small forward Matt Lowerre, who handed it right back to him with a wide open path to the basket. That path was quickly closed by Hockomock standout Brandon Teixera , who rejected Smith at the rim.
The Stoughton crowd went berserk. Then they became silent as junior Peter Banks put back the blocked shot at the rim to give Sharon a one point lead.
The game was not over, though, for time still remained on the clock. Shortly after Banks’ putback, the Stoughton Black Knights had a chance to tie it up. But Stoughton’s hope was diminished once again by Peter Banks, who denied Teixera’s stumbling attempt at the buzzer.
Banks, normally a stone-faced assassin who shows little emotion on the court, let out a ferocious cry of triumph after he stuffed Teixera’s potential game-tying shot.
“I locked him down,” Banks said after the game.
“He was the best player on Stoughton and I should have been guarding him the whole game,” Banks satirized.
Banks finished with an impressive statline of 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks in the 69-67 Sharon victory on Friday night.
The man who guarded Teixera (18 points, 10 rebounds) for much of the game, Josh Rotman, found success in the second half. After Teixera got off to a hot start (15 points in the first half), Rotman was tasked with shutting him down and held him to just 3 second half points.
Rotman, who is not known for his offensive game, outscored the perennial Hockomock All-Star 6-3 in the second half.
“It’s all a mind game with players like him,” Rotman explained. “He can score, but if you get in his head and stay on his hips all game, he does not know what to do.”
Rotman, who committed to UMass Amherst for lacrosse last summer, was contemplating whether he was going to even play basketball before the season, just a few months ago. Now, he says that he made the right decision.
“This game reminded me of all my love for basketball. It’s a great game and I love it. I am 100% glad I decided to play.”
Coach Andrew Ferguson said the Eagles completely focused the defense on Teixera, the Hockomock’s leading scorer, at halftime.
“I told Brandon Texiera after the game that he has my vote for MVP. We had to go completely out of what we usually do as a team on defense to take him out of the game,” Ferguson said.
“In the second half, we were taking away their main option, which was our objective.”
Andrew Filipkowski, who has struggled recently, led the way for Sharon offensively, scored a team high 15 points by sinking five of his nine three-point attempts. Filipkowski credits his teammates for his hot shooting against the Black Knights.
“My teammates got me open looks. I didn’t hit a three in my last three games but my teammates still had confidence in me. They told me to keep shooting. Good shooters keep shooting,” the senior captain said.
Just four minutes into the game, Sharon trailed Stoughton 16-4, but they came back in the second quarter by going on a 14-0 run and outscoring the Black Knights 24-14. Filipkowski says that Sharon’s resilience was key in a game full of ups and downs.
“We just had to keep battling. We fell behind early in the game, but we had to keep battling. We fell behind in the fourth quarter, but we had to keep battling. We kept battling and we won the game.”
The victory was a rewarding birthday present for the Smith brothers, especially Bryce, who took the court for the first time this season.
“It’s good to be back, get that W. I wasn’t nervous, just a little rusty at first, but I swung back into it quickly.” Bryce Smith said. “We’re at seven wins now and we’re looking to beat a good Taunton team on Tuesday.
Sharon continued their hot shooting by going 10-20 (50%) from behind the three-point arc. They also sustained their “team scoring” effort. Every Eagle who stepped on the court made their way into the scoring column.
Coach Ferguson says that if the team wants to complete their goal of making the state tournament, they will need more balanced scoring outputs like that. He also referenced a rough patch in the upcoming schedule.
“We want to qualify for the state tournament. We haven’t done that yet. We would like to win the Davenport division and to do that, we are going to have to beat some very good teams going forward,” Ferguson said.
“For us to be 7-4 right now, we could easily be 7-8 by next Friday. It’s going to take this total team approach we had today to be where we want to be.”