The Milford boys basketball team is accomplishing just that.
The Hawks dominated the second half, allowing just three points in the fourth quarter to earn a 46-31 win over Dedham in the Scarlet Hawk Classic Championship. It marked Milford’s sixth straight win to close the regular season.
“Our defense was just fantastic,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver of what changed in the second half. “I don’t know how many points they had in the fourth quarter but I know they had 22 at halftime and only 31 to end the game. That’s what changed down the stretch…our defense was that good when it mattered the most.”
Beyond allowing just three points in the fourth, the Hawks allowed a total of just nine points in the entire second half.
“We talked all season about getting to the point of playing our best basketball when it matters the most down the stretch,” Seaver said. “We’ve said it since December. It’s been a process, we lost games we know we could have won. It took a good chunk of the season for us to get to the point where our confidence led to results. We have a lot of momentum going into the tournament.”
Points were at a premium in the first half. A late putback in the final minute from Milford senior Andrew Fraioli (nine points, eight rebounds) had the Hawks ahead 10-8 after eight minutes of play.
Neither offense got in gear in the second quarter either. The teams went back and forth, having ties at 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20.
Junior Brendan White (10 rebounds) scored six of his game-high 13 points in the quarter while both Shane Cosquete (12 points) and Fraioli each had two to keep pace with the Marauders. Dedham’s Brian Tavares hit a midrange floater late to give the visitors a 22-20 lead at halftime.
“I credit Dedham’s defense,” Seaver said. “I thought they did a very good job playing tough, playing physical. It took us a while for us to get any offensive flow. Even when we did get to that point, it was a couple of guys hitting a couple of big shots that kind of opened things up for us. Usually, it’s good defense that fuels offense and that was the case in the second half.”
Dedham extended its lead to 26-22 at the midway point of the third quarter, but the Hawks finally got the momentum boost it needed. Senior Zach Tamarro took a feed from Cosquete and drained a three, Milford’s first triple since senior Matt Nickerson hit one early in the first quarter.
That three sparked what turned into a 10-2 run for the Hawks over the final 3:16 of the third quarter.
Kayden Kelley (13 rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a putback to give Milford a 27-26 lead. Two possessions later, after Dedham regained the lead, Tammaro made the extra pass to White for a three-pointer. White scored on a nice cut to the basket, giving Milford a 32-28 edge heading into the fourth.
Free throws from Cosquete and Fraioli were answered by two free throws from Dedham’s Michael Mansour. Holding a 36-30 lead with five minutes to play, the Hawks put the game to bed with a 10-1 run to end the game.
Tamarro dropped in a floater after a nice shot fake, Cosquete drained a three right before the shot clock buzzer and Fraioli scored down low on a feed from Cosquete. Cosquete put an exclamation point on the win with another triple late in the shot clock.
Milford boys basketball (12-8) will now await the tournament seeds, which will be released on Friday. The Hawks could be the third, fourth, or fifth seed based on results posted online. Milford will likely be in a tiebreaker with Grafton and Medfield, with names drawn out of a hat to break the tie. If the Hawks get the third or fourth seed, they will have a home game. The win over Dedham secured the Hawks would be in the three-way tiebreaker.
“We talked about getting a home game. We’ve been following along with everything over the past couple of weeks,” Seaver said. “We have a two-out-of-three shot to get a home game. It was a goal of this team and they did it, they put themselves in position. Now we have to get better at practice and be ready for wherever we play.”
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