FALL RIVER, Mass. – Sometimes the reason behind a win or a loss is complicated. There are a number of factors that could turn the tide from one side to the other over the course of a basketball game .
Sometimes the explanation for the final result is much easier to deduce.
On Wednesday night in the Luke Urban Field House at Durfee High, Foxboro shot nearly 30 three-pointers in its Div. 2 South semifinal against No. 2 seed Whitman-Hanson but made only five. Meanwhile, the Panthers knocked down eight shots from beyond the arc in the first three quarters, six of them by senior Brenndan Rogers.
The Warriors cold shooting allowed Whitman-Hanson to pull out a 64-50 victory and advance to the South final to face Randolph.
“That’s basketball,” said Foxboro coach Jon Gibbs. “I thought we moved the ball well at times and got some good looks and they just didn’t fall.”
“It’s a tough pill to swallow because you hate to lose at the stage and see the season come to a close but the bottom line is they made more shots than we did.”
The Warriors jumped all over Whitman-Hanson in the first quarter. Foxboro’s press was forcing turnovers and leading to shots at the rim. Foxboro led 12-4 out of the gate behind four points from Jason Procaccini, a three from Mark Clagg and a three-point play from Alex DuBrow.
DuBrow then set up Andrew Block for a corner three that made it 15-7, one of his seven assist in the game, and scored on a layup that ended a 5-0 Panthers run. To start the second quarter, DuBrow (nine points) again found Block (six points) in the corner for a three that made it 20-12.
The Panthers turned the game on its head with an 18-4 run to close out the first half. That run continued in the third quarter and stretched to 30-8 after the Block three and gave Whitman-Hanson a 14-point cushion.
The main reason for the turnaround was Rogers, who scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the second and buried four threes – many with a hand in his face.
“The No. 1 emphasis tonight was on defending the three-point line, that’s been Whitman-Hanson’s game all year,” said Gibbs.
“I don’t know how many he ended up with, six, seven threes but give credit to the kid Rogers for an incredible shooting night and he really put the team on his back.”
The Warriors struggled to stem the tide because their own shots were not falling, which meant that they could not get back into the full-court press that seemed to really bother the Panthers in the first quarter.
Gibbs explained, “We really wanted to pressure them and if you can’t score then you can’t press.”
He continued, “It kind of became a situation that snowballed a little bit because I thought our press was very effective early and then for long stretches we couldn’t get into it and they were able to come down and run their offense, which is exactly what we didn’t want them to be able to do.”
The Block three was the lone made field goal in the second quarter for Foxboro but going into halftime it was only a six-point deficit.
The third started with a lob from DuBrow to Procaccini (team-high 16 points) for a layup but that was answered by a layup on the other end from Cole Manning (13 points, 11 rebounds) and then a three by Rogers with Procaccini right in his face.Nick Smith (10 points) hit one from straightaway and Roger buried another and the game started slipping away from the Warriors.
Down by 19, Foxboro put together a quick 7-0 spurt that gave the Warriors fans life. Joe Morrison scored off a backdoor cut and was fouled. He missed the shot from the line but DuBrow grabbed the board and laid it in. Procaccini hit a three from straightaway and the lead was down to 12.
The momentum did not stay on Foxboro’s side although the Warriors continued to battle in the fourth quarter, twice cutting the deficit to single digits.
“I was so proud of the way we played in the fourth quarter, we didn’t quit,” said Gibbs.
One of the sparks that kept Foxboro going was Morrison. The sophomore guard scored six points in the fourth and at times looked like a one-man full-court press. He picked his man’s pocket and scored on a layup then scored again in transition and then again stole an inbounds pass for a layup that made the score 54-45.
“That’s obviously what he was out there for was to spearhead that press,” Gibbs said. “To see him do it on the biggest stage was so impressive and he was a big reason why we were able to hang around.”
The Panthers would not allow the Warriors to get too close, shooting 10-12 from the line down the stretch to seal the win.
Gibbs said, “We were down double digits the whole fourth quarter, our backs were against the wall and we could easily have quit, but we just kept fighting. I thought we showed a lot of heart and character.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.