Sandwich Basketball Brings Home Atlantic Coast League Title
By: Dan Crowley, February 14, 2014
Most if not all of the members of the Blue Knight basketball team hadn’t been born yet the last time Sandwich (12-6, 10-1 ACL) won an Atlantic Coast League championship. The last time the Knights were on top of the league was the 1994-95 season. They’re back after Tuesday night’s 62-58 victory over Dennis-Yarmouth.
“They are really a good team,” senior captain Johnny Stanton said of the Dolphins. “That was the third time we played them this year and the third time that we’ve beaten them.”
“It was an all-around team effort in every aspect of the game,” senior captain Jack Condon said. “We didn’t have everything clicking, but we found a way to pull out the win.”
In order to claim the title the Knights had to win on the road at D-Y. If the Dolphins (8-7, 8-3 ACL) could pull out a victory, they would probably gain a share of the championship title. But with the championship in sight, first-year head coach Dennis Green and his team took the floor to win it all.
With just over a minute left in the fourth quarter the Dolphins tied the game at 55-55. But, a combination of determination under the basket by Stanton and a solid zone defense that forced crucial turnovers got the job done. Joey Downes and Scotty Reels put the icing on the cake with final second free throws.
“It was the biggest win in Sandwich High School basketball history,” junior captain Joey Downes said. “D-Y was tough and played great defense. We got the ball to our big guys down low down the stretch and I think that won us the game.”
The Knights took an early lead ending the first quarter and took a 35-29 lead into the half. But a D-Y comeback allowed the Dolphins to slip ahead by the end of the third quarter 47-45.
Lead changes marked most of the final eight-minute stretch, until Stanton refused to be stopped down low in the final minutes, giving the Knights the edge.
Free throw shooting spoiled the night for D-Y as they finished 8-for-21.
“This is the biggest game that I can remember,” Stanton said. “It’s a new beginning and I think the future is bright for Sandwich basketball.”
Hank O’Brien, who played a tough physical game underneath, finished the night with 16 points. Stanton and Downes each added 13 and Reels tossed in a dozen. Reels and Downes each had two 3-pointers and Jack Condon added a fifth. D-Y hit six times from outside the 3-point arc.
“They played a great game,” coach Dennis Green said of his team. “Hank [O’Brien] did a very good job battling underneath and with second chance rebounds and Jack Condon, who always gives 100 percent, did a great job coming up with a big play at the end of the game with a putback with just 19 seconds to play. Andrew Galanek was great blocking out and down low. They played Joey pretty tight, but he still finished with 13 points. Everybody chipped in. This has been a great season for us.”
“Our team played fantastic,” Downs said. “We’re a family and we’re all confident and upbeat. I think something like this shows kids that are thinking of coming to SHS that Sandwich basketball is back. There is a different atmosphere, it’s fun and the team is winning.”
The Nauset Warriors got a taste of what the night held for them in the opening 4:06 of Monday night’s game at Sandwich High School. Joey Downes opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, launching a 14-0 Blue Knight run that kept the Warriors off the scoreboard, until late in the first quarter. Sandwich continued to apply the pressure, ramping it up in the second half as they ran away with a 70-47 victory.
Scotty Reels got in on the 3-point shooting, knocking down one with three minutes left in the quarter. Rebounding by Johnny Stanton, tough physical play under the basket by Hank O’Brien and an aggressive Sandwich defense forced the Warriors outside. Nauset hit two 3-pointers down the stretch and Reels knocked down another as the Knights held a 24-14 lead at the end of the first eight minute quarter.
Sandwich went on to finish the night with eight 3-pointers, while the Warriors hit 10.
Nauset cut the lead to 24-19 early in the second, but that was as close as they got the rest of the night. Jack Condon dished a ball inside to O’Brien, who banked it in off the glass and then Will Bennett set up Downes for another 3-pointer, as the Knight defense tightened and the Warriors fell further behind.
Downes finished the night with four 3-pointers, Reels had three and Condon added another. Downes, a junior, is closing in on the 1,000 career point mark, as he finished the night with 937 career points.
In the final seconds of the half, Stanton set up Downes for a drive to the net and then Downes stole the ball and took it on for two more points as Sandwich took a 42-26 lead at the half.
Andrew Galanek hit two quick baskets to open the second half as the Knights launched a 16-4 scoring run. Sandwich then held the Warriors scoreless for the final 3:12 of the third quarter and the first 3:21 of the fourth quarter, making it a 6:33 stretch that Nauset went without scoring, while Sandwich added 11 more points to the score.
The Warriors backed up and went to the long ball in the final minutes, hitting three 3-pointers down the stretch.
The Sandwich defense dominated the second half, with Dillon and Bennett picking up where Stanton and O’Brien had left off in the first half.
Downes led all scorers with 16 points, Stanton had 12 and Reels added 11.
The Knights are back on the court Monday at the Whitman-Hanson Tournament.