After the first eight minutes, the Tigers held a 21-2 advantage and by halftime, took a 20-point lead into the locker rooms.
When all was said it done, they needed that cushion created in the first half.
Foxboro crafted a spirited rally throughout the final 16 minutes, cutting the deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get over the hump as Oliver Ames earned a 63-54 win inside William F. Nixon Gymnasium.
“I don’t know if we could have played much better than we did for about a period and a half,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “For that stretch, that’s about as well as we played. There were no illusions that wouldn’t continue for an entire game. We knew they’d make a run at it. We did some things in the second half to make it frantic. They ran a second guy at us and we got a little sloppy with the ball, we got a little undisciplined on the offensive end.
“A combination of things put it in jeopardy. We expected it to be more like the last three periods than the first one. It eventually got there. We were fortunate we did as many things right early as we did.”
The Tigers went 7/16 from the floor, including a trio of trifectas – one from Dylan Mahoney (19 points, 10 rebounds) in transition right at the buzzer to put an exclamation point on the quarter.
After Foxboro scored the opening bucket of the game via freshman Brandon Borde (nine points, five rebounds, four assists), the Warriors went 0/8 from the field and committed eight turnovers against OA’s 2-3 zone — many of the turnovers turning into points for the Tigers.
“We just came and got punched in the mouth,” admitted Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We weren’t ready to play out of the gate. We didn’t have enough passion, enough energy, just didn’t have enough focus. I thought the first quarter we played uninspired. Too many turnovers led to easy baskets for them. We really struggled against their zone, give credit to OA, they have a very active zone and really get out into passing lanes. It wasn’t just our starters either, we played nine, ten guys in that first quarter. It was just everyone as a group, we weren’t ready to go.”
Foxboro was a equal opponent, if not greater, the rest of the way. The Warriors outscored OA 51-43, over the final three quarters but never cut the deficit to under eight. Foxboro senior Mark Clagg scored 13 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.
While Oliver Ames obviously relied on its hot start, the Tigers put together maybe its most important run of the game in the fourth quarter. Two free throws from Foxboro’s Anthony Barreira with just under five minutes brought the Warriors within 10 at 53-43.
Oliver Ames responded with a timely 6-0 spurt in just over 30 seconds to retake command of the contest. Evin netted a layup off a feed from Mahoney, Mahoney converted for two of his own after a Foxboro miss and Evin converted a put back after a shot was blocked by Foxboro’s Joe Morrison (12 points, four rebounds, four steals, two blocks).
“We emphasize just that,” Byron said. “It’s not the 18-2 runs, it’s the series of 6-0 runs that you can put together and if they are timely, even better.
“Carter’s starting to look like himself. His first game back he had a rough ride and Mansfield had something to do with that. He probably accelerated the rehab about two weeks but he’s starting to feel better, his practices have been better too. We’re starting to look like ourselves a bit more now.”
Foxboro kept its pressure on, rattling off an 8-1 run capped by Teddy Maher’s second three pointer of the half to get within eight (60-52) with just over a minute to play but the Warriors ran out of time to complete the comeback.
“I was really proud of the way they battled in the second half,” Gibbs said, his Warriors winning the final 16 minutes by double-digits. “I thought they showed a lot character and a lot of heart and I’m proud of that. I think we showed we’re capable of being a very good team when we play with energy. And I think we showed we have the character to be a good team. Obviously we still came up short because when you dig yourself that big of a hole on the road against a good team, it’s going to be tough to get all the way back over the hump. There’s a lot we can learn from this game.”
Barreira and Maher, mostly known for their defensive efforts, turned in strong performances on both ends of the court. Barreira had eight points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists while Maher knocked down a pair of big three pointers, had two assists and three steals.
“I thought Anthony Barreira and Teddy Maher both came off the bench and gave us a defensive spark,” Gibbs said. “We had to go to with an aggressive full court pressure and that’s what those two kids are good at, they are really scrappy, athletic kids that take a lot of pride on the defensive end. They did a great job, they wreaked a lot of havoc and made a lot of great plays to get us back in the game.”
Oliver Ames (8-6 overall, 6-4 Hockomock) moves into sole possession of third place in the Kelley-Rex with a game in hand. The Tigers are back in action on Tuesday with a trip to Canton. Foxboro (4-8, 3-7) looks to snap its three game skid on Tuesday with a visit from Attleboro.