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Mashpee forward Willie Baker gets Norwell’s Matt Leaver into the air with a pump-fake during the two schools’ game at the Bock Gymnasium last Friday night.

The deck was stacked against the Mashpee High School boys’ basketball team for most of the season, and it got no better for the Falcons in the South Shore League tournament. The Falcons had all their chips in the middle of the table as they opened up the 2021 postseason, but having to face defending Eastern Massachusetts champ and state finalist Abington led to the squad having to leave the table in the first round.

Mashpee battled the top team in the South Shore League tight for a half, but the game got away from the visitors in the second half. Abington took over the game in the third quarter on its way to a 73-52 victory on Monday, February 15.

The Falcons had to go to battle without two of their top senior starters, forwards Matt Bowen and Nick Santos. The duo had not yet been cleared to play after the rest of the team returned to action earlier in the week. Not having the pair left MHS undersized against a big and physical Abington team, and without much-needed supplemental scoring.

Senior guard Ryan Hendricks, who had himself an impressive all-star-caliber season, was red-hot in the first half of action for the Falcons. Hendricks finished the game with 26 points and caught fire in the second quarter. Hendricks canned four 3-pointers in the second and had 16 points in that period alone.

At halftime Hendricks had scored 23, and Mashpee trailed by just two, 38-36. In the second half, though, the Green Wave focused all it had defensively to keep Hendricks in check, and made the rest of the team beat them. After his big first quarter, AHS held Hendricks to just three points in the second half, and just a single free throw in the fourth quarter.

The game turned in the third quarter. Abington allowed the Falcons to score just six points, and turned its two-point halftime lead into a 19-point spread after three.

Willie Baker was the second high scorer in the game for Mashpee. The senior had nine points. Shea Eaton had four points, all in the fourth quarter, and Gabe Tellez also had four.

Abington was led by its star, 1,000-point scorer Matt Maguire. He finished with 23 points.

The Falcons will play one last makeup game, against Carver. That date and time are still pending.

Norwell 36, Mashpee 34

Having gone two weeks without competing, Mashpee certainly had its share of rust to shake off in its return game against Norwell High School on Friday, February 12. The Falcons shot the ball very poorly, but a stout defensive effort gave them a chance to win the game in the end.

That rust did them in in the end, though. Mashpee led by as many as seven points with 5:30 to play after a Jean Vazquez fastbreak basket and free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play. MHS had chances to put the game out of reach after that, but shots simply would not fall, no matter if they were from under the rim or beyond the arc.

Norwell slowly chipped away. Down five with 1:51 to go, NHS called timeout and set up a play. It got one point at the line to pull within four and then got to the line again with 55 seconds remaining. After hitting the first of two free throws, NHS grabbed Owen Miller’s rebound of a missed second shot and got a putback from Ethan Downey-Lamprey to make it a one-point game. That was the last bucket for the Norwell forward, who led his team with 16 points.

Up one, Mashpee ate clock on the offensive side, but was unable to get a quality look from the field. Ryan Hendricks’s rushed shot was off-line and Norwell got it back with 30 seconds and a chance to take the lead.

Enter Connor O’Hare.

The Clippers’ guard had put up numerous shots throughout the game, but nothing would fall. His most important one, though, was true. Squaring up from the left wing, O’Hare swished a trey with 22 seconds to go in regulation to give Norwell its first lead of the second half, 36-34.

Mashpee still had a chance to make a play, but its bid to win it with five seconds left on a 3-pointer was off-line. The Falcons got a break, after fouling, when Norwell missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the Falcons’ rushed bid to get the ball up the court for one more shot was batted around. Jared Barr desperately tried to beat the buzzer with a prayer, but the ball left his hand a heartbeat after the horn had sounded.

Norwell’s lengthy defenders keyed on MHS guard Robbie Hendricks and took the senior captain out of the game after a productive first quarter. He was limited to five points, all scored in the first eight minutes. Gabe Tellez also had a big first quarter, scoring seven points. His nine were the most on the team. Willie Baker had six points.

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