But the Bombardiers never landed the knockout punch, never fully took control of the momentum, leaving the door slightly open for Bridgewater-Raynham.
The fifth-seeded Trojans pounced, using a 9-0 run over a two minute span that erased a deficit and turned it into a lead — one they wouldn’t relinquish in a 74-71 win over 13th-seeded Attleboro.
“In the postseason, every possession matters, offensively and defensively,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought we had some good momentum on offense but then we’d give up a transition basket. Our momentum was short lived because they came back and got something quick a lot of the time and I think that was a huge difference tonight.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort, the effort was certainly there tonight. I just think [B-R] did a great job of executing what they needed to do to win the basketball game.”
After trailing by as much as nine in the first half, the Bombardiers used a successful second quarter to take a two-point lead into half. That two-point lead grew to a five-point advantage heading into the final frame and stayed at the point until midway through the quarter.
“It was a hell of a tournament ball game,” said B-R head coach Doug Alves. “Two good teams going at it and luckily we were the team that came out on top. I think we made one or two more plays than they did and that made a different in the fourth quarter.”
Jake Dunkley (17 points, eight rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to give Attleboro a 61-55 lead with just under six minutes to play but the Trojans were ready with a response.
Bridgewater-Raynham senior — and former Taunton standout — EJ Dambreville drained a deep three on a kind bounce to cut the deficit to three. After getting a stop on the defensive end, B-R took advantage of an offensive rebound, eventually finding the hands of Griffin Perry. His trifecta tied the game at 61-61 with just our four minutes to play in the game.
The Bombardiers were tripped up while going to the basket on the next play, one of the few times there wasn’t a whistle on the play. The teams combined for over 40 fouls and 61 free throw attempts.
Bridgewater-Raynham took advantage of the no-call when Darrius Hyppolite drained his third three of the contest to give the Trojans a 64-61 advantage.
“We kept that six point lead in the second half and it seemed when they would get it to four, we kept pushing it back to six or eight,” Houle said. “There was a couple of possessions in a row they got some threes, Dambreville had one from deep, then they got one to tie it and then they hit one to go ahead. THat’s when they got the momentum, it really went in their favor. It ended up being somewhat of a difference when they got over that hump. Down the stretch, they executed their transition offense better than we executed our defense.
“B-R’s a good team, they played hard, they played physical, everything was challenged.”
Attleboro snapped its near three minute scoreless streak with a pair of free throws from Dunkley to cut the deficit to two but B-R answered with a baseline jumper from John Tesson, who had a team-high 18 points.
Bombardiers’ freshman Bryant Ciccio (14 points, four assists) answered with a pull up jumper from the foul line to get with two again. Attleboro for the miss it needed but Dambreville went up, got a slight tough of the ball and pulled the rim down, allowing the ball to fall in for two.
“We knew they’d come out and pressure us, we had to take care of the basketball,” Houle said. “There were times they were able to get some deflections, get some steals and get the tempo to their liking. They scored a lot of points in transition offense. We’d make a big shot and then turnaround and they’ve come right back and get to the foul line or score or we just didn’t stop the ball. They won that battle tonight.”
The teams each traded a free throw as the B-R advantage stayed at four (70-66) with under two minutes to play. Attleboro had two looks to cut the deficit but missed the front end of a one and one and a missed on a drive to the basket. B-R then hit free throws down the stretch. Andrew Milliken (14 points) hit a late three to get to the final score.
The Trojans built an early lead through high pressure, forcing Attleboro into turnovers or quick shots. B-R took an early 11-3 lead and went up 16-7 on a three from Perry. Attleboro got back into the game with an 8-2 run – a bucket from Dom Victor and three point plays from Milliken and Qualeem Charles (seven points, eight rebounds). But Perry hit a late three and then Dambreville got on to go just before the buzzer from just over half to put the Trojans up 24-15 after one.
Ciccio took over in the second quarter for Big Blue, scoring 10 points in the quarter to help the Bombardiers go from behind to ahead. Over the first four and half minutes of the quarter, Attleboro went on a 13-4 run with Ciccio hitting a pair of free throws to tie the game. Ciccio’s lone field goal – which turned into a traditional three point play – of the quarter put Attleboro ahead by two. Lucas Boucicaut drove to the basket for two, giving Attleboro a 36-29 lead. B-R close the quarter on a 6-1 run to get within two at half.
“Bryant has had a real solid freshman season,” Houle said. “I think that second quarter, he really took over and showed what he can do offensively creating space and creating opportunities for us to score. His energy level and his ability to get by a defender is a great skill. Being freshmen, him and Q, they’re only going to get better.”
Attleboro boys basketball finishes the season 13-10 overall, tied four fourth in the Kelley-Rex. The Bombardiers will graduate four players, including Dunkley, who finished with over 900 career points. Houle had high praise for all four of the seniors.
“Jake Dunkley is such a hard worker, he’s so passionate about the game of basketball. He works hard on both ends of the court. He’s a terrific leader for us. Andrew Milliken is another leader. He’s done anything and everything we’ve asked of him this year, playing guard or playing a big, his heart and effort is what we take pride in. Lucas Boucicaut has been playing varsity since his sophomore year. He’s had his ups and downs but I’ll tell you he’s grown a lot as a young man. He’s been a pleasure to coach and he’s given us everything he had. Robby Pierce, this year came in and was probably our best worker in practice and did all the little things. His game time might not be as much but his effort and attitude is something you really want your seniors to have. I’m really proud of all four of them.”