By Danny Emerman, HockomockSports.com Contributor
FOXBORO, Mass. – Foul shots had plagued Foxboro all night. As a team, the Warriors hit just 18-of-30 (60%) freebies.
But when senior Bobby Harrison stepped to the line with his team up three points with 20 seconds left, he delivered. Twelve seconds later, after a wild step-back three from Milford’s Cam Falcon brought the visitors within two, he iced the game with two more to give Foxboro a 55-51 win over Milford.
“Over the course of the season, you have games like that where there’s a lid on the hoop and you’re missing shots you normally make, including free throws,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “You have to be able to win ugly sometimes and I’m really proud we were able to grind through with our ‘D.’”
Harrison had the opportunity to ice the game thanks to senior captain Joe Morrison’s fourth-quarter takeover. Morrison scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth, including a deep, stare-down trey after a jab step to give the Warriors a 48-41 lead.
“Joe Morrison stepped up and hit a couple huge threes for us. He does it all for us, he’s incredibly clutch, he’s an unbelievable winner,” Gibbs said.
Although he recorded a game-high 22 points, Morrison went scoreless in the first and third quarters.
“Even though he struggled offensively at times, he made big shots,” Gibbs said.
In those same quarters, Foxboro scored just seven and nine points respectively. They went over two minutes without a point to start the second half.
Milford led for most of the game, but couldn’t extend the advantage more than six points. Neither team could find the offense to pull away, as there were five lead changes in the last two and half minutes of the first half.
Milford received 28 of its 51 points from the starting frontcourt of Kayden Kelley (16 points) and Andrew Fraioli (12 points). Defensively, the duo protected the rim throughout the game and made it tough for Foxboro in the paint.
“We really struggled to finish,” Gibbs said. “We missed a lot of layups and shots in the paint we usually make. Sometimes that happens on any given night, but I thought their length had a lot to do with it.”
Kelley especially dominated on both ends, altering shots at the rim and showing impressive inside-out skill on offense, controlling the glass as well.
“We were driving the ball to the lane, and they have a lot of big, long guys rotating over and changing some of those shots, making those shots difficult,” Gibbs said. “I think their length affected us on both ends,”
Milford’s team defense locked in especially in the second half. They held the Warriors to six points in the third quarter before Morrison exploded in the fourth. By rotating over on the weak side on Foxboro slashes, Milford took four charges in the second half, three from guard Joey DeMarco.
Milford carried a lead into the fourth quarter and appeared to be in position to upset the Warriors, who entered the game at 8-1.
Momentum shifted after the Scarlet Hawks were hit with a pair of technical fouls. Morrison drilled all four technical free throws and then a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to cap a seven-point possession, swinging a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. Foxboro held on from there.
To negate Milford’s size, Foxboro played full-court, man-to-man defense throughout the whole game. Senior Teddy Maher harassed the ball-handler and forced several turnovers. His “disruptive” play from 90 feet away from the basket wore down opposing guards, Gibbs said.
“A big part of our game plan tonight was to put pressure on their guards at the point of attack and try to disrupt their offensive flow. We didn’t want them to just come down and be comfortable running their offense and be comfortable throwing it into the post against us. So we really wanted to put a lot of pressure on the ball.”
By staving off Milford’s effort, Foxboro improves to 5-1 in the Hockomock, 9-1 overall. The Warriors will entertain Canton on Tuesday in a battle for first place in the Davenport division. Milford (2-4, 3-4) will look to bounce back when it travels to North Attleboro on the same day.