By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
SHARON, Mass. — It’s not always the perfectly drawn up play that can get you a game winning shot, sometimes a broken play works out just as well.
With 19.5 seconds to go, Sharon called for a timeout after Foxboro tied the game 46-46. Senior Andrew Filipkowski took possession outside the three point line as time winded down to 10 seconds. He raced all the way around the edge, turning the corner on the baseline before dishing out to senior Matt Lowerre in the corner. A slight pump fake allowed Lowerre to drive hard at the hoop, sucking in the defense. Lowerre handed the ball off to junior Peter Banks at the free throw line and he quickly shuffled the ball along to senior David Roelke.
Roelke caught the pass – which was slightly to his left – with one hand, bringing it to his right and rising up all in one motion, shooting a three over the outstretched hand of a lounging defender.
Swish. Then the buzzer.
Roelke’s three gave the Eagles a 49-46 win over Foxboro and put the two teams into a tie atop the Davenport Division with five league games remaining.
“We came into the locker room and said ‘Just like we drew it up,’” Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson said with a big smile. “I wrote down a couple things before the game tonight and one of those things was trust your seniors. When it kind of broke down, I thought about calling a timeout but I remembered to trust the seniors. Having all three captains out there, I had a feeling we would get the last shot and if it didn’t go in, at least we would go to overtime. Once it left David’s hands though I had a feeling it was going in.”
Sharon took its first lead of the second half when Tyler Smith drained the team’s first three pointer with just over a minute to play in the third to go up 32-21. Andrew Filipkowski drained another with 36 seconds to go in the third to give Sharon a 35-33 lead heading into the fourth.
“We hit three’s in the second half,” Ferguson said of what was the difference between halves. “I thought we got a lot of shots in the first half, we just missed some easy ones. We were tight coming in in a big game against Foxboro. It was similar to what we did against Oliver Ames. It’s an emotional game where you don’t execute as well and finish as well. I think once we calmed ourselves down in the locker room and then started watching them go in, it became easier for us.
“Our focus has been to get the ball inside. With the way that Peter Banks has been playing, the way Mitchell [Sirota] and Mike Zola had been playing, we figured we had a good matchup inside. We kind of got going from three point when they went zone. We had a feeling they might go zone at some point and we had the right guys on the floor when it happened. Going inside then outside to get some shots will work for us.”
It was all Eagles for the first half of the final period as buckets from Ricardo Ripley, Lowerre and Banks preceded a three from Roelke that gave Sharon a 44-36 lead halfway through the fourth. That’s when Foxboro flipped the switch back to on and closed the gap.
Alex DuBrow drained a three but Jimmy Fitzhenry hit a free throw to keep Sharon’s lead at six. With a tick under 90 seconds to play, DuBrow then banked a deep three from straight away to make it a three point game. The Warriors missed a pair of free throws but senior Rob Lowey (seven points, 14 rebounds) came up with the offensive board and putback to get within one.
Bryce Smith hit the front end of two free throws to make it a two point game and then confusion — mainly just for the officials — set in. As the shot clock was winding down and just 30 seconds to play, Jason Procaccini (game-high 18 points, 11 rebounds, six steals) launched a three that hit off the backboard without touching the rim. Lowey grabbed the rebound and quickly put it up, releasing before the buzzer. The shot hit the rim but missed. Joe Morrison tipped the rebound up and clearly pulled in the rebound to keep possession for the Warriors but the whistle blew with one ref putting his hand on his head for a shot clock violation.
After a lengthy discussion, the refs awarded the ball back to the Warriors but instead of a fresh clock (or no shot clock at all since there was only 25 seconds to go), they somehow decided on five seconds on the shot clock.
Foxboro still made it work though as Procaccini got in the post and quickly went up with it to tie the game with just over 20 seconds to play, setting up a timeout for Ferguson and the eventual winning shot from Roelke on the ensuing possession.
The Eagles had nine players register points on the scoresheet and beyond Roelke’s winning three, the most important came from Bryce Smith. When Foxboro held its nine point lead (21-12), it was Smith that rattled off seven straight points to keep the Eagles close. In just his third game back from injury, Smith injected the Eagles with some energy. First came the traditional three point play, then another bucket, followed by a steal and another layup while being fouled to pull Sharon within two just before the break.
“That’s what it’s been throughout this season,” Ferguson said. “Guys have gotten back [healthy] and are contributing. Bryce Smith single handedly kept us in the game in the second quarter and this is just his third game back. David [Roelke], this is just his third or fourth game back too and for those guys to come in and contribute while other guys had down games because of what their defense took away. It’s a good problem for us to have right now.”
Procaccini was a big reason for the lead for Foxboro, recording 12 points and five of his steals in the first half.
“It just seemed like it was one of those nights that for whatever reason, the ball just wasn’t going in the basket,” Foxboro coach Jon Gibbs said. The Warriors connected on a season-low four three pointers. “I thought we had some good looks and the ball just didn’t go in. We had some layups and shots in the paint that didn’t go in, we missed a lot of free throws but that’s basketball. You’re going to have nights like that, especially on the road. On those nights you have to rely on your defense to carry you and I thought our defense in the first half was excellent but for whatever reason we were flat in the third quarter. I really felt like in the first half we should have been able to get some separation, we played really good defense. But because we missed some easy shots we couldn’t get that separation.
“Sharon was able to build a lead and take the momentum and sort of put us on our heels. Give Sharon credit, they played a good game.”
Roelke finished with a team-high 12 points while Smith and Banks (eight rebounds) each added 10 points.
Beyond Procaccini, DuBrow had 13 points and three rebounds.
“We had some sloppy ones,” Gibbs said of his team’s 21 turnovers. “Coming into the game we talked about being patient and playing simple and getting a great shot every time and I don’t think we did a great job. I think we tried to force the home run pass early in possessions and that resulted in some turnovers. There were also some times we were being a little too unselfish around the rim instead of just powering it up strong.
“One positive we can take from this is being down that much that late in the game, and hanging in there and not giving up and making a bunch of plays in a row to give ourselves a chance to win the game was the real positive. Hopefully the next time we’re in that situation we can understand we’re still in it and just keep taking punches and hanging in there.”
Sharon (9-4, 8-3) moves into a tie for first place in the Davenport. There are no tiebreakers for division champs so head-to-head does not put the Eagles in first. Sharon will host Franklin in a battle of division leaders on Monday night. Foxboro (10-3, 8-3) will have a quick turnaround as they take on Bridgewater-Raynham on Sunday morning at 10:00AM at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
“This win makes up for some of those early mistakes for sure,” Ferguson said. “We set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the Davenport Division and we still want to reach that goal. We need one more win to get into the state tournament. We just had Taunton and Foxboro and now we follow up with Franklin. These are all tough ones. Luckily we get Franklin at home which helps us a lot. But right now we’re setting ourselves up to accomplish goals we set as a team.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.