Trailing 58-52 with just over two minutes left in the game, Attleboro applied a full court pressure. The result was back-to-back steals from senior Nathan Douglas (12 points), the first Douglas scored on himself, the second turning into a layup from Elvin Sam.
After Foxboro called timeout, Attleboro’s defense once again came up with a big play. Sam and junior Mason Houle jumped onto a loose ball, forcing a jump ball and giving possession to the hosts, down two, with a minute to go.
But before Attleboro could set its play in motion, Foxboro senior Teddy Maher came up with a huge steal in a one-on-one situation. The Warriors used nearly the entire play clock before sophomore Brandon Borde (10 points, four rebounds) drove through traffic converted at the rim for a 60-56 lead with 22 seconds to play.
The Bombardiers called timeout and executed right away as sophomore Qualeem Charles (career-high 28 points, 12 rebounds) quickly scored down low to get the deficit back to two with 12 seconds to go.
Foxboro senior Joe Morrison (19 points) got the inbounds, was fouled, and iced the game with a pair of free throws, giving the Warriors a hard-fought 62-58 win over Attleboro in a very entertaining contest.
“I thought we showed incredible poise,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “They threw that press on us and we weren’t really ready for it, and they got two quick steals. The momentum was completely in Attleboro’s favor…we’re on the road, the crowd is getting louder. It would have been really easy for us to fold but Teddy made a senior play. Teddy’s a phenomenal defender, he gives us a lot of intangibles, he gives a lot of things that don’t really show up in the box score but that’s what seniors do this time of year. They make winning plays.
“I thought it showed a lot of character and a lot of poise, instead of us folding mentally, we showed some true toughness and came up with a big stop when things weren’t going our way.”
“It was a good fight by us to get back in it, to get it within two,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We didn’t execute towards the end, we wanted to go inside but you never know what could have happened. Foxboro does a nice job and makes you work for everything you get.”
It was the second time Attleboro rallied in the second half, only for Foxboro to regain its footing late. The Warriors led by 10 (36-26) at halftime, but the Bombardiers executed their game plan nearly flawlessly early in the third to get back into it.
Houle (four points, six assists) drove to the basket for two, Dom Victor hit back-to-back shots in the paint, Charles converted a pair of putbacks and then completed a traditional three-point play after a feed from Houle, giving Attleboro a 39-38 lead on the back of a 13-2 run over the first four minutes of the third.
Foxboro regained the lead when senior Matt Rongione (14 points) knocked down his fourth three-pointer of the game and Maher converted a layup after an Attleboro turnover. But the Bombardiers went to work down low again, with Charles hitting two free throws after being fouled in the paint, and Victor again converting close to the basket.
“In the third quarter we came out and we did a nice job of really going high low with our bigs,” Mark Houle said. “We got a lot of paint touches and got Dom going down low. When they started overplaying our guards we had some good layup opportunities. I think we got back in it going inside, which is our strength, but Foxboro’s defense is obviously good. The outside looks we got were contested and we didn’t hit the outside shots that you’d like to be able to knock down.”
Morrison took over for the final 90 seconds of the third. He came up with a steal and went the distance for a layup. After a steal fromDevin Hassett, Morrison drained a three-pointer to put the Warriors up five. And then the senior hit a technical free throw with 7.8 seconds left to give Foxboro a 49-43 lead entering the fourth.
Morrison also had five points in the fourth quarter, including an early three that put Foxboro up nine, an assist on Borde’s alley-layup at the midway point that kept Foxboro ahead by seven, and his game-clinching free throws.
“That’s Joe…it seems like its that way in every game that in the second half, in the fourth quarter, coming down the stretch when we need big plays, Joe is the one who is right there to make it, whether its on the offensive end or the defensive end,” Gibbs said. “He’s incredible, he’s without a doubt the best pure winner and pure competitor I’ve ever coached. He just has the knack for the big play, whatever we need. We’re so lucky to have him, he’s a once in a lifetime player for me as a coach. He’s the ultimate winner and you saw it tonight.”
The first half was highlighted by mismatches on both sides of the court. Charles was Attleboro’s focus early on, scoring eight points and hauling in five rebounds in the first quarter. Douglas hit both of the Bombardiers’ three-pointers of the game in the opening frame, helping Big Blue take a 16-14 lead after one.
While Charles gave Attleboro an advantage down low on the offensive end, Foxboro’s ability to spread the floor and shoot from distance gave the Warriors a leg up, especially in the second quarter.
Foxboro hit five three-pointers in the second quarter to surge past Attleboro. Senior Bobby Harrison (career-high 15 points) was responsible for four of those triples, taking advantage of his matchup. With Charles defending the hoop in the paint, Harrison was left open and converted his chances. Rongione also hit a three in the period, helping the Warriors seize a 36-26 lead at the break.
“Obviously [Charles] presents a huge mismatch for us when they are on offense because we don’t have anyone to match his size inside,” Gibbs said. “But we were also hoping we could do the same when we had the ball and use our perimeter to cause some mismatches for them. We talked to Bobby a lot about setting ball screens on the perimeter and pulling out to either shoot or drive.
“Bobby was able to get some open looks and to his credit, he stepped up and knocked them down. He caused Attleboro some problems, I assume they don’t want [Charles] out on the perimeter chasing guys around, and he was forced to come out because Bobby made some threes.”
Foxboro finished 10-for-19 from three-point and 23-for-47 from the field overall.
“Foxboro is a talented team, and Borde and Morrison are very good off the dribble,” Houle said. “We really wanted to use Qualeem as much as we could inside to sag the middle. I think the first quarter we were able to get away with it but once Harrison hit one, we had more of a soft close out, then he hit two, then hit the third one which was a dagger. Then we had to open up more and get out and cover him. That was big because we were hoping to be able to sag more inside and not allow that ball penetration.”
Foxboro boys basketball (8-3 Hockomock, 12-3 overall) begins its second go through of the Davenport schedule on Friday when it hosts Sharon at 6:30. Attleboro (6-5, 9-6) will try to bounce back when it travels to take on King Philip on Friday at 7:00.
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