Knights Ground Eagles
By: Dan Crowley
The Blue Knights are in the hunt. Sandwich picked up a huge win Tuesday night keeping their playoff hopes alive with an exciting, fast-paced and aggressively played 79-66 victory over Plymouth North. Unfortunately few fans were there to witness the hard-fought win.
With five games remaining the 8-7 Knights need to win two more to reach the state tournament.
“It was huge,” Coach Mike O’Brien said of the team’s win. “This keeps us in the hunt. We needed this.”
Al Stanton and John Hendy combined to hold the Eagle’s top scoring threat, Ben Tirlia, to just 15 points. In their first meeting of the season North’s C.J. Ward scored 23 points. Josh Downes held Ward to 13 points Tuesday night. At the other end of the court Downes scored 26 points to tie Stanton for the game high.
“Josh had the primary coverage all night,” the coach pointed out. “He did a fantastic job of shutting Ward down.”
The Knights held a slim 38-34 lead at halftime, but a strong third quarter sparked by Paul Catalano’s drive to the basket launched a 23-11 scoring run.
A strong night off the glass by Brian Hickey and a physical game underneath paced the Sandwich scoring.
“He has been a different player since the last Plymouth North game,” Coach O’Brien said of Hickey. “He’s playing more aggressive at both ends of the court.”
Hickey finished the night with eight points and 13 rebounds.
Justin Fitzmaurice hit Stanton on a drive to the hoop to open the fourth quarter putting the Knights on top 63-49. The Eagles fought back furiously, but steady aggressive play at both ends kept Sandwich in the lead.
Fitzmaurice completed a fast break with 5:22 to play, but a minute later went down with an ankle injury. Stanton continued to put up the points. Liam Cannon dropped in a jumper and Downes spun to the net with a backward layup in the final seconds to nail down the win.
A three-pointer by Stanton brought the Blue Knights to within four points Sunday night with under a minute to play. But Barnstable (6-7) hung on, adding a basket in the final seconds to claim a 72-66 victory.
The third quarter ended with the two teams tied at 52-all. A three-pointer by Barnstable’s Jordan DiMaggio jumpstarted the fourth for the Raiders as they pulled ahead by 10 points midway through the quarter. Catalano found Stanton inside for two points and Fitzmaurice fed Downes for a layup as the Knights closed the gap. DiMaggio, who led all scorers with 38 points continued to find the net down the stretch to fight off the late Sandwich charge.
The Knights struck in the opening seconds Sunday night as the two teams hit the floor playing a fast-paced, physical game. Hickey netted a couple from down low off a feed from Fitzmaurice and later Hickey found Downes, who made a nice drive to the net. Stanton hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to keep Sandwich ahead and Downes hit a pretty, off-balance shot, picking up a foul, and finishing the three-point play for the Knights who held a 22-19 lead after one quarter.
Barnstable hit five three-pointers in the second quarter as Sean Powell got hot accounting for three of them. Stanton launched Hendy on a fast break for two points and then hit a couple from the floor; however, the Raiders pulled ahead 39-33 by halftime.
Barnstable increased their lead to 10 points in the third quarter. Stanton and Downes chipped away at the lead. Catalano made two nice drives to the net, giving Sandwich a 52-50 lead with 1:21 remaining in the third. The final minute proved unproductive for both teams with the exception of a layup by Matt Delaney with 15 seconds left to tie the game.
Stanton led the Knights with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Downes finished the night with 18 points.
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