Falmouth Boys "Keep Playing"
By: Rich Maclone
Paul Lundberg must sound very repetitive to his players because he repeats one phrase more than any other. Over and over he can be heard telling his Clippers to “just keep playing.”
The coach’s mantra was put to good use on Wednesday night in the championship game of the annual Bridgewater-Raynham Holiday Tournament. Down 15 points in the first quarter, it would have been easy for FHS to pack it in and write the game off, but that is neither their style, nor their coach’s.
Instead they just kept playing, and they came all the way back, winning by a 49-46 score to improve to 4-1 on the season. Guards Nelson Baptiste and Andrew McGill earned All-Tournament team recognition for their performances as FHS beat Sharon and Archbishop Williams on consecutive nights.
FHS rallied back from its 17-2 deficit in the first to make it a three-point game by halftime, trailing just 25-22. With hard work throughout the second half they tied it up and then took the lead for good, with under four minutes to play, when Dillon Mansfield found an open spot and knocked down a three-pointer. Baptiste set up the shot by drawing a double team on a drive and kicking it out to the open shooter.
From there Falmouth got the job done at the free throw line, with Baptiste hitting a couple of clutch freebies in the final minute. Sharon had a chance to tie the game on its final possession, but the Clippers’ defense denied them a good look at the basket.
Damien Reid had his second straight strong outing for FHS. Reid hit for nine points and did a stellar job on the defensive end.
“To go on the road, and get two wins in a row like that, you’ve got to give them credit,” Lundberg said of his players. “Every game we’ve played this year has been close. The kids have just kept playing and for some reason they pulled out some wins, they’ve battled. It hasn’t been perfect basketball, but they just keep fighting.”
On Tuesday night the Clippers won a thriller, in overtime, over Archbishop Williams to earn a spot in the Holiday Tournament finals. Damien Reid hit 10 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a pair of huge three-pointers, to pace Falmouth’s late charge. Baptiste led all scorers with 22 points in the game as FHS won 58-54, advancing to meet Sharon in the finals.
FHS looked like they were primed to blow the doors off the Bishops in the third quarter as they increased a six-point halftime lead (28-22) to nine after a pretty finger roll by Andrew McGill midway through the period. Then the wheels fell off for Falmouth and the offense disappeared like pavement in a blizzard. FHS went the next eight minutes without scoring a single point and nearly nine before their next field goal. During that span AW caught fire and rolled off 15 consecutive points, with Kevin Louine (13 points) leading the way by kickstarting the charge with three straight jumpers.
The Bishops fought back to tie the game going into the fourth, at 36-36, and built the advantage to six by the midpoint of the fourth.
Falmouth’s saving grace was that the Bishops cooled off some, thanks in part to better defensive work by the maroon and white. It was that and the fact that Baptiste took the initiative to make something happen, driving to the basket to force a foul, which ended the scoreless run as he hit 1-of-2 from the line. The senior then followed up a stop by the defense with a baseline drive for two more to cut the lead to three, 42-39, with 3:36 to go.
Kyle Kasprzyk’s fantastic put-back on the next trip for FHS made it a one-point game, but the sophomore’s stay in the game ended seconds later. The big man, who battled foul trouble throughout the game, was cited for a tough fifth foul call with 2:35 left.
Even without the post presence in the middle for Falmouth, the defense continued to get stops. During the squad’s run back into the game, they came through with six straight defensive stops.
Dillon Mansfield (12 points) then rose to the moment to put Falmouth on top. With FHS down a point, the Bishops were overplaying Baptiste defensively as they refused to let the Clippers’ top scorer beat them. Mansfield was left wide open from downtown and he caught a pass from Baptiste and swished the three-point bomb to put FHS back on top, 44-42, with 68 seconds left.
The Bishops got a free throw on their next possession, making it a one-point game. Reid then got to the foul line with 20 seconds left. He hit the first, and the second, but the second was waived off due to a lane violation.
AW came through with the tying shot, on a second chance, with four seconds to go. Elvin Souffrant, the team’s senior captain and leading scorer in the game with 19, rattled in a runner with four ticks to go to send the game into OT.
FHS may have been ice cold for portions of the second half, but in the overtime they caught fire. Reid made up for his ill-timed violation infraction with trifectas on back-to-back trips, the second of which was straight out of the Michael Jordan handbook. After a free throw by AW had put them up by a point early in the OT, Reid gave FHS the lead with a pretty catch-and-shoot three that McGill set up. Then, after a bucket by Louine tied it at 48-all, Reid dropped the jaws of everyone in the stands with a beautiful crossover dribble to lose his man that led to a stepback three-pointer to put FHS on top, 51-48. AW answered with a three from Souffrant to tie it up again, but Baptiste put the Clippers on top for good with a nice up-and-under move with 90 seconds to play. AW missed three straight shots on their next trip before Wyatt Hamilton came down with the rebound. Hamilton (four points, nine rebounds) then scored a huge bucket to make it a two possession game. He dropped in a lay-up after Baptiste drove the baseline, drew the defense and dropped it off for the wide-open big man on the weak side.
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