The Warriors have been in plenty of tight games this season but whether it was overtime, an untimely turnover, or an unlikely offensive outburst from their opponent, Foxboro couldn’t find its way into the win column — until Thursday night.
Foxboro made all of the plays it needed to down the stretch, including a huge three-pointer from sophomore Ryan LeClair, to earn its first win of the season, 46-39, over visiting Canton.
“I think we were just more consistent on the small controllable things,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “Offensively, down the stretch, we were able to take care of the ball and keep our composure against pressure and we executed and got good shots. Earlier in the season, in late-game situations, we were having some untimely turnovers, and not only that, the other team would break out for a big momentum basket. We didn’t do that tonight, we were able to get quality shots and guys stepped up to make the big shots.”
Locked into another close game in the fourth quarter, the Warriors withstood pressure from a talented Canton team. Even after its four-point lead evaporated and momentum seemed to swing in favor of the Bulldogs, Foxboro didn’t panic.
The game was knotted at 29-29 after three quarters, setting up a winner-take-all fourth period. And for six minutes, it was a back-and-forth battle with each team matching the other, basket for basket, and stop for stop.
Junior Dylan Gordon, who scored a career-high 22 points, put the hosts ahead with a strong take to the rim, LeClair hit one from the line with just over three minutes to go, and sophomore Alex Penders scored his first basket of the game to give Foxboro a 37-33 lead with just under three minutes to go.
Canton took its turn to answer as senior Ryan Connerney (10 points) sliced through the defense to the rim for two and then found Steven Burbank (13 points) on a nice backdoor cut to tie the game as the clock ticked under two minutes to go.
But the Warriors refused to wilt under pressure and came back with an answer of their own. Halfway through the shot clock, LeClair found some separation after setting a screen and drained a deep straightaway three to make it 40-37 with 1:35 to play.
“He’s always been a really confident kid, and that’s one of his best attributes and that’s really important for a point guard,” Gibbs said. “Each passing game, we’ve really seen that confidence grow and with that, he’s improved more and more and grown into his role. He just continues to get better. We want him to take that shot in that moment, we all believe in him and I’m really happy for him that he stepped up and knocked it down.
Foxboro got a stop after Canton’s attempt at a tying three was just off the mark. This time, LeClair drove left past his defender which forced a pair of Bulldogs to help. The sophomore guard dumped a pass off to Sean O’Leary, who finished off a tough layup for a 42-37 advantage with less than a minute to go.
The Bulldogs kept it close when junior Lanse Dorcelus drove from the right wing into the paint and finished through contact. Down three, Canton elected to foul Gordon, who drained a pair from the line to ice the win for the Warriors.
“It’s a classic Canton-Foxboro game where every single basket is hard to come by,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “At the end of the game, it was tied late, they had kids that made more plays when it mattered. They made plays in winning time and we’re still learning how to do that.
“When we get hot, we get real hot and when we get cold, we get real cold. Tonight was one of the cold nights and credit to Foxboro, they played great defense. That’s a team that’s been working hard all season. I’m disappointed for us but congrats to them for getting their first win, they deserved to win tonight, we didn’t.”
LeClair might not have been in position for his big three and assist in the final minutes if it wasn’t for a big shot from junior Cam Barreira earlier in the game. Sophomore Sam Golub (six points, six rebounds) drained a three for Foxboro with 4:10 to go in the second quarter but the Warriors would go on a long drought before scoring again.
Canton rattled off a 10-0 run over the course of the next 8:41 of game time. Steven Burbank scored the last four points of the first half to give the Bulldogs an 18-17 lead at halftime. Connerney converted a traditional three-point play and Eric Mischler (11 points, five rebounds) drained a corner three off a nice feed from Connerney and the Bulldogs held a 24-17 lead with 3:44 left in the third.
Out of a timeout, Barreira came up with a huge shot. The inbounds found Penders, who was immediately double-teamed. The sophomore center alertly turned and dished to Barreira in the corner and the junior didn’t hesitate, sinking a three-pointer that lit a fire under the Warriors.
Barreira’s bucket sparked a 12-5 run that brought the hosts back into the game. Gordon scored six straight, sandwiching a pair of field goals around two from the line. And Golub hit his second three of the game to put Foxboro ahead 29-26. Canton’s Will Keefe answered with a triple in the final seconds to make it 29-29 going into the fourth.
Foxboro (1-6 Davenport, 1-6 overall) will travel to Canton (3-3, 3-6) for a rematch on Wednesday at 7:00.