By Sammy Kirshenbaum (Sports Correspondent) and Danny Emerman (Sports Correspondent).
FOXBORO – The first Monday back from February vacation is usually an uneventful day, often filled with dreary teens missing the sun. On this cool winter night, the playoff bound Sharon Eagles headed into rival Foxboro with hopes to complete the season sweep of the Davenport champion Warriors and close out their season with a win.
A furious second half comeback from the Eagles proved not enough as the Warriors outlasted them in overtime, 84-73. With the loss, Sharon heads into the playoffs bearing a three game losing streak.
The game began in disappointing fashion, with the Warriors breaking out to an early 10-2 lead before coach Andrew Ferguson felt it was time to slow the game down and take his first timeout. As it would show throughout the rest of the game, the Eagles struggled on the glass, failing to secure rebounds and allowing the Warriors to gain second chance points. After a long quarter with little resistance from Sharon, Foxboro held a 22-9 lead. Points in the paint was the real difference in the first quarter, an area where Sharon had often dominated with their dynamic duo of big men Peter Banks and Mitchell Sirota protecting the paint.
After gaining momentum from all-star captain Matt Lowerre’s charge, the Eagles converted a couple fast break baskets to bring them back into the game. Both teams traded buckets in an up-tempo second quarter. Sharon trailed by 12 at halftime, down 39-27. While upset with his team’s first quarter play, Coach Ferguson was proud of the way his guys fought back.
“To have to fight back from 22-9, it’s a testament to our guys’s character,” Ferguson said.
Lowerre’s shooting helped the team climb out of that first quarter hole, hitting two threes in the half along with a nice finish under the rim. He finished the game with 15 points and three triples.
“It helps when you hit the first one from three, it’s all muscle memory when you get into the games and feel the pressure,” the senior captain said.
Following some nice halftime adjustments, Sharon started the second half off strong with a nice inbounds pass to Sirota for the finish. Following back to back threes from the Eagles’ talented backcourt of Ripley and Lowerre, Foxboro called timeout. Even with the Eagles now scoring with ease, their defense uncharacteristically failed to get stops.
Unable to stop the fast break, the Eagles seemed to be falling out of the game after repeated turnovers leading to easy layups for the Warriors. A big three from David Roelke followed by a Bryce Smith steal brought the Eagles within 14 with 1:38 left in the third. Back to back layups allowed the Eagles to close out the quarter behind 58-48.
The fourth quarter began with back to back threes from senior captains David Roelke and Andrew Filipkowski along with a Foxboro travel due to stifling defense from center Peter Banks. A monster 3 from Lowerre was negated by a converted and-1 from Foxboro standout Jason Procacinni (24 points). Following multiple trips to the line, the Eagles trailed by three with under two minutes to play, until Filipkowski nailed a three assisted by fellow captain Matt Lowerre. After a last second heave from Mitchell Sirota, the Eagles were headed into overtime completely gassed.
Led by former Eagle Alex Dubrow (10 points), who left the game earlier with an apparent hand injury, Foxboro claimed the extra period from the start. As Sharon lost their momentum and swagger, Foxboro nailed clutch shots and controlled the boards. Foxboro outscored the Eagles 16-5 in the extra period. Coach Ferguson says the game would have been different if his squad played with the second half intensity for the whole game.
“If we played with that effort and intensity all game we can be a tough team to match up against,” Ferguson said.
The Eagles will host a play in game against an unknown opponent next Monday. Captain Matt Lowerre knows how unpredictable high school basketball can be, and he is ready for the postseason.
“When it comes to playoff basketball, anyone can beat anyone; seeds no longer matter. It is all about who can play the best in that given day,” Lowerre said.
Forward Devon Mann returned to the lineup after injuring his ankle against King Philip on January 12. Senior Michael Zola was sidelined with an ankle injury, but he says he will be ready for the next Monday’s play in game.