After opening the season with four straight wins, the Duxbury boys’ basketball team suffered its third straight defeat in a 52-50 loss to Whitman Hanson on Tuesday night in Duxbury.
The Panthers jumped on the Dragons early, as senior guard Miles Hoffman scored in a variety of ways to put the Panthers ahead 10-4 with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Despite the aggressive start, Whitman-Hanson Coach Bob Rogers called a timeout to set up some offensive strategy for his team.
When play resumed, the visitors went on a 10-5 run and closed out the first eight minutes of play with a 20-9 lead.
The Dragons would play evenly with the Panthers during the second quarter and closed the gap to 29-22, as Justin Marino scored five consecutive points in the last two minutes. Whitman-Hanson’s Blake Hickey responded with a free throw and Dondre James nailed a three-point bucket in the final seconds to give the Panthers a 33-22 halftime lead.
Whitman-Hanson is as inexperienced as the Dragons, but they didn’t show it in the first half, as they outplayed Duxbury in every aspect of the game and made it look like a potential runaway.
It was a totally different story in the third quarter, as the Dragons chipped away at the lead with the help of junior Curtis Owen, who scored seven points while Duxbury closed the gap to 38-36 with 1:45 remaining in the quarter.
The Panthers would start the final eight minutes with a 46-37 lead that grew to 51-39 midway through the quarter. At this point the Dragons began to chip away, as Justin Marino scored a pair of baskets and brother Jason nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 51-46. With 2:34 left in the game, Duxbury was now back in the contest.
A free throw by Owen and a basket by Justin Marino had the Dragons within a basket at 51-49 with just over a minute left in the game. Free throws by James and Marino made it 52-50 with Whitman-Hanson in possession.
As the shot clock wound down, the Panthers fired up a shot that missed and was rebounded by Justin Marino with 13 seconds to go in the game. Duxbury Coach Gordon Cushing called a timeout with 12 seconds to go in hopes of getting off a good play. The inbounds pass was batted away and Duxbury got possession once again with five seconds on the clock. Needing a three -pointer to win it and a basket to tie, the inbounds pass went inside with the Panthers in double coverage. Duxbury was unable to get off the shot as time expired, and the Dragons left with their third loss of the season (4-3).
“The pace of the game was fine, but we’re struggling to put the ball in the basket,” said Cushing. “We’re also struggling at the free-throw line. We seem to be having one bad quarter in every loss.”
As for the reason his team was able to get back in the game, Cushing said, “We decided to go small because their big men weren’t hurting us and then we went to a full-court press because we knew we’d lose if we just sat back and waited. We were tired and got back in the game, but it was frustrating not to get off that shot at the end.”
Justin Marino was the high scorer for Duxbury with 14 points, while Owen contributed 13 and Jason Marino chipped in with seven. Whitman-Hanson’s Hoffman led the winners with 19 points.
Next up for the Dragons is an afternoon home game with Scituate at 3:30 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day.