ATTLEBORO, Mass. – There were two technicals, a ton of calls that were argued by both sides, four ties and five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone, battles in the post and on the perimeter and a game that was only decided in the final 13 seconds.
Basically, it was a typical night in the Attleboro – Bishop Feehan boys’ basketball rivalry.
Jake Dunkley scored 32 points to lead three Bombardiers in double digits and Attleboro rallied from as many as nine points down in the second half to take a lead in the final minutes, but Feehan rolled off the final eight points of the game to pull out a 79-74 victory in the latest meeting between crosstown rivals.
“Especially when you’re playing against our rival, no matter what the records are, it’s going to be a good game,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle. “I told our kids coming that you’re going to be in it, we just have to grind and work hard.”
“We made some plays down the stretch to give us the lead and I thought we had enough in us, but it ended up not being enough.”
Feehan looked like it was pulling away as halftime approached. Dunkley knocked down a pair of free throws that made it 39-30 as the teams headed into the locker rooms, but it was the home team that had the momentum after a 22-point second quarter.
The Bombardiers came out of halftime with renewed energy and were sparked by Dunkley, who got a steal on Feehan’s first possession and raced down for a layup, then knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to five.
Brent Cook stepped off the Attleboro bench and scored five of his seven points in the third, including a clutch three just after a Peter Luongo, Jr. putback had given Feehan its largest lead at 54-42. Kyle Murphy, who finished with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, completed a three-point play and Andrew Milliken (11 points) hit a jumper to make the score 55-50 heading to the fourth.
Milliken knocked down even bigger shots in the final quarter, as his two corner threes got Attleboro back level at 57-57. Dunkley stepped into a three-pointer of his own a few minutes later to tie the game again at 64-64 then added a spinning layup that put Attleboro up one, it’s first lead since the start of the second quarter.
“He’s developed into a very confident player,” said Houle of Dunkley, “and I think he’s better offensively and defensively. We have confidence in him that when it leaves his hand it’s going in and I think he’s going to continue to get better.”
Feehan continued to come back and take the lead thanks in large part to senior guard Mike Nelson, show led the Shamrocks with 25 points. Nelson continually took the ball to the basket and frequently ended up at the line. In fact, 15 of his 25 points came from free throws, including seven of his 13 fourth quarter points.
Nelson did make one bad judgement play in the fourth when he bounced the ball in the direction of the official and was called for a technical when it bounced off the back of the ref’s leg. Dunkley sank both free throws and then on the ensuing possession pulled up from the line and banked in a shot over the arms of a Feehan defender.
Houle said, “That first half looked like it was getting out of hand a little bit, but in the end we were right in it. It would’ve been a nice way to…our kids have continued to work hard and it would’ve been a feather in their cap to beat a good team.”
Attleboro had a 74-71 lead but could not grab the rebounds down the stretch it need to put away the game. Several times, Nelson took a shot but the long rebound would somehow end up back in his hands or those of senior Nick Botelho (18 points). On one of those rebounds, Nelson scored to tie the game 74-74 and then on the next trip Botelho got fouled and hit one of two to regain the lead.
“That’s about finishing plays,” Houle explained. “There were a couple of those [bad bounces] but a couple where if we had boxed out then we would have got the rebound.”
The Bombardiers had their chances, but Dunkley was called for traveling on one drive and then down by three, after two more Nelson free throws, he missed two chances at the rim and Botelho grabbed the decisive rebound with a second remaining.
It felt like a missed opportunity to grab another marquee win in the final few games of the season.
“It was almost a complete package for us tonight,” said Houle.
He added, “Being in this atmosphere is good for us and we have to continue to learn and grow to compete against and beat good teams.”
Attleboro (6-14, 5-10) played spoiler last week when it beat Taunton and could potentially play a role in the league title race on Monday when the Bombardiers host Mansfield, which is tied for the Kelley-Rex lead.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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