After six lead changes in the third quarter alone, Canton rattled off an 8-0 burst over a two-minute span to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game. The hosts never looked back from there, earning a key 61-48 win over Foxboro to give the Bulldogs sole possession of first place in the Davenport.
“That was just a great basketball game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “The score says it was a 13 point game but it really wasn’t, free throws extended it at the end, it really could have gone either way. Two teams that play really hard-nosed basketball, I thought the stars were stars…[Devin] Foster and [Tony] Harris for us, [Brandon] Borde and [Joe] Morrison for them. Both teams have really solid role players…just a really awesome high school basketball game. And my hat’s off to Foxboro, they do a really good job with their guys, they’re always well coached and well prepared.”
Canton junior Devin Foster (24 points, five rebounds) banked in a step-back three-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 44-43 lead, and arguably, more importantly, the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs led by one (10-9) at the end of the first and a late three from Foxboro senior Teddy Maher sent the teams into the locker rooms tied 26-26. Neither side led by more than six points through three-quarters of play.
After Foxboro scored the first basket of the fourth to retake the lead, 45-44, the Warriors’ offense went quiet. Canton’s Tony Harris (23 points, six rebounds) started the run with a pair of free throws, Foster drained a deep three from straight away, and after a steal from Ryan Lentol, Harris hit a trey of his own to give the Dogs its largest lead at 52-45 with 3:32 to play.
The Warriors couldn’t answer as they had a turnover on the ensuing possession and then three straight misses. With just over a minute left and the shot clock winding down, Foster took his man baseline and finished at the rim for a 54-45 lead.
Foxboro finally broke its scoreless streak (spanning 6:20) when sophomore Brandon Borde (17 points, seven rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to seven, but Canton hit seven of nine free throw attempts in the final minute while the Warriors went without a field goal.
Canton outscored Foxboro 17-5 in the final frame.
“Foster’s three at the end of the third quarter I think really changed the momentum of the game,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I think it gave Canton a big boost and kind of sucked away some of our energy, unfortunately. Canton was obviously very well prepared and they were prepared to take away some of the things we like to do offensively and they were able to make things really difficult on us. Give Canton credit for their defense. I think it had to do with their defense more than anything else.
“Foster and Harris were tremendous, it seemed every time we started to build momentum, one of those two hit a big shot. They hit huge shots time and again, and they were really clutch. They did what big-time players do and really carried Canton. We’ll have to figure out how to do a better job next time around.”
Canton built a 10-4 lead through the first seven minutes of the first quarter, holding the Warriors to just 1-for-11 shooting. But after hauling in an offensive rebound, Joe Morrison (17 points, seven rebounds) drained a three and Borde scored on a layup on the next possession to bring Foxboro within one after eight minutes.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the second period either, but couldn’t pull away thanks to Foxboro’s work on the offensive glass. Harris had a three erased when Borde answered off of Morrison’s offensive rebound.
Jake Verille gave Canton its largest lead of the first half with a layup (19-13) but Borde converted at the rim, later hit a free throw and Morrison hit a pair of free throws to get Foxboro within one. Harris finished a traditional three-point play only for Borde to keep Foxboro close with a triple. Foster and Bobby Harrison traded baskets, Austin Maffie then put Canton up three, but Maher’s triple tied the game.
“A game that tight, every possession is so valuable that they really stick out…an offensive rebound really sticks out cause its an extra possession,” Gordy said. “That game came down to who was able to execute and grind out stops. Any offensive board or tip we got or they got, it just seemed huge.”
In the third quarter, Morrison hit a three to put Foxboro up 29-28, only for Foster to convert to give Canton the lead back. Morrison drained another triple but four straight from Foster put Canton ahead again. Matt Rongione went on a personal 5-0 run and two free throws from Borde gave Foxboro its biggest lead (40-35) with 2:30 in the third.
“Devin was just feeling it in that quarter,” Gordy said. “He had 11 in the quarter and it felt like he got hot at the right time, he put us on his back for a quarter and we were able to come out and play better team basketball in the fourth to put it away.”
Kyle Fitzgerald and Lentol scored back-to-back but a three from Anthony Mollica kept Foxboro up four. Harris brought Canton within two before Fitzgerald’s offensive rebound set Foster up for his buzzer beater.
“Kyle Fitzgerald, all that kid does it make toughness plays,” Gordy said. “He’s undersized but he plays big. He’s our catalyst, he does so much for us. He’s a spark plug off the bench and his contributions tonight should absolutely be noted.”
“I thought in the second half they started to get more of those 50-50 balls, more of the loose balls, more of the rebounds in the paint on both ends,” Gibbs said. “Those plays add up and can make a huge difference over the course of a game. Especially these grind-it-out Davenport games, every possession matters. If you can get your team an extra shot or extra possession, it’s huge. I thought Canton was really hungry in the second half…that huge three by Foster at the end of the third was off an offensive rebound. And we weren’t able to get enough of those for us in the second half.”
Canton boys basketball (6-1 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) moves into sole possession of first place of the Davenport and will be in action again on Friday at Stoughton. Foxboro (5-2, 9-2) will look to bounce back the same night when it travels to North Attleboro.