After a rough start to its 2011-12 basketball season, Coach Gordon Cushing’s boys’ basketball team ended its losing streak at three games with a pair of wins over Scituate and Somerville to capture the inaugural Pro Sports Basketball Tournament at Duxbury High School last week.
Reeling after two-point losses to Quincy and Marshfield by identical 50-48 scores, the Dragons got 18 points from tournament MVP Khai Perry in a 50-47 win over Patriot League rival Scituate, and followed that the next night by stunning previously unbeaten Somerville, 52-46, for the tournament crown. After jumping out to a 10-5 lead in the first four minutes against Scituate, Duxbury let the Sailors back in the game with a seven-point run that gave the visitors a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Sailor lead would grow to 20-15 with two minutes left in the second quarter, but a pair of baskets by senior captain Jason Marino and a three-point bomb by senior Andrew Scott suddenly had the Dragons ahead by one at 22-21.
The lead didn’t last long, as Scituate’s Chris Durkin hit a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Sailors ahead at halftime, 24-22.
“We are having so much trouble putting the ball in the basket. It’s just unbelievable,” said Cushing.
Neither team had much luck pulling ahead for long, as two free throws by senior Curtis Owen and a hoop by Perry tied the game at 26-26.
Another Perry basket and an Owen left-handed shot in traffic matched Duxbury’s biggest lead of the game at 31-26, but Scituate would rally with a Daniel Mendes’ three-pointer to tie the game again at 33-33 with less than a minute to go in the quarter. Junior John Geary would hit two free throws late in the quarter and Duxbury held a precarious two-point lead with eight minutes to go in the game.
Scituate’s Danny Palmer nailed two jumpers and John Foster added another, as the Sailors retook the lead at 39-37. But Geary was accurate at the free throw line once again and the game was knotted at 39.
With the score tied at 41-41, the Dragons took the lead for good when MVP Perry canned a three-pointer with 3:20 left in the game. The small cushion shrank 10 seconds later when Foster scored to cut the lead to one. Perry got it right back for a 46-43 lead and Foster retaliated for one of his own to keep the deficit at one.
Perry came to the rescue one more time with 1:40 left on the clock, as he was fouled in the process of making a basket and nailed his free throw for a 49-45 lead.
Scituate Coach Dave Jordan called a timeout with 1:35 to go, and when his team came back on the court Palmer hit a basket to make it 49-47. The Dragons would squander a chance to put the game away and Scituate’s Noma Okundaye would get fouled, but miss both free throws with 43 seconds remaining.
Geary would get a big rebound on the miss and was fouled, going to the free throw line where he made it 50-47 with seven seconds left in the game. Palmer’s heave at the buzzer went wide and Duxbury had earned a trip to the finals against Somerville.
“I think we missed something like 29 shots inside the paint in those three loses before today,” said Cushing. “It just doesn’t stop. I’m not sure what we missed today, but it’s lay-ups, it’s bunnies, it’s follow-ups. That’s the first game we scored over 50 and we struggled to do it. Our defense isn’t horrible and we’re holding teams to the high 40s, but there is only so much defense you can play. If you can hold teams to 49 points you should be winning the games just like that.”
Somerville, with its rich basketball tradition and an opening night win over Marshfield (55-49), certainly didn’t look like an undefeated program in the first eight minutes against Duxbury as Owen erupted for eight points that gave the Dragons a 14-5 lead.
Owen continued to have the hot hand, as he followed a Rob Kosharek basket with three straight of his own and suddenly the Dragons were sitting on in improbable 23-7 lead. Kosharek made it 25-9 seconds later and the Dragons left the court at halftime with a 25-11 lead.
The game tightened in the third quarter as Somerville’s Kevin Silva began to heat up, pouring in seven points and cutting Duxbury’s lead to 34-26 with a quarter to go.
Things got a little more tense when Billy Bonnet nailed a three-pointer to get the lead down to 34-29 seconds into the quarter, but Owen, Geary and Justin Marino combined for eight points and the Dragons were in control at 42-31 with just under four minutes to go in the game.
Somerville began to pick up its defensive pressure and turnovers started to happen as the Highlanders whittled the lead down to five at 43-38 with two minutes to go.
The Dragons were now in a penalty situation, as Owen went to the line and calmly sank four free throws to make it 47-38 with 90 seconds to go. Shortly after, Kosharek fouled out and Silva got hot with four points in the final 47 seconds to help cut the lead to 49-46.
Owen would sink three more free throws for a game-high total of 24 points in Duxbury’s 52-46 victory.
“We gave them a hard time tonight because our defense was pretty good and it’s getting better,” said Cushing. “We have to put the ball in the basket and when we do it it makes everything so much easier. I thought Khai did a nice job of running the offense and I’m happy with the way we played because I don’t think anyone thought we could beat Somerville. Even though we have a couple of seniors, we’re still young. It’s a really good win for us because we’ve been struggling with a couple of losses by two points and were beginning to doubt ourselves. But this is a really good win for us.”
On Friday night the Dragons will take on Silver Lake at home at 6:30 p.m.