Senior Barry Santana seemed to defy the law of gravity Saturday, as he outrebounded taller New Bedford players who surrounded him, as boys’ basketball, 19-3, defeated the Whalers 56-43 at home, in the Division I Quarterfinals.
Especially in the second half, Santana was all over the boards. He was also a key factor on defense, even occasionally making smart fouls to prevent baskets. However, in the fourth quarter, Santana fouled out after what appeared to be an accidental elbowing to a New Bedford player during a spin move.
“I think I played my best until I fouled out. A call’s a call, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it,” Santana said.
The team held a sufficient lead throughout the first half, although a few traveling calls cut into its score. Both teams were somewhat sloppy on offense, making many turnovers. “We talked during halftime about how they weren’t really interested in playing defense, and we tried to take advantage of that in the second half without offense,” Santana said.
However, the Tigers seemed to have trouble maintaining their own defense at the start of the half. They allowed the Whalers to decrease their deficit to four points early in the second half.
Luckily for the Tigers, the four-point deficit was the closest the Whalers would get to the lead during the half. Senior Luke Westman, a captain with seniors Jared Masinton and Mike Thorpe, was vital on offense in the third, passing smartly, and executing well.
Two Whalers double-teaming Westman fell for his pump fake in the third quarter, after which Westman made a quick pass to the wide-open Santana, who finished the play for an easy two points. It was a perfect example of Westman’s calm nature on offense.
Later on, an 11-0 run by the Tigers in the fourth quarter, led by senior Tim Stanton and Westman, gave the Tigers the edge they needed.
The Whalers became more violent as the gap between the scores increased in the second half. By the end, Thorpe had gone to the line for three technicals fouls, two of which were flagrant.
Coach Paul Connolly said he was just “glad nobody got injured” and attributed New Bedford’s fouls to frustration.
“They definitely attacked us and put up a good fight. It was an exciting game.”
The team’s halftime discussion on the Whaler’s defense made a difference, according to Santana. “They weren’t really a team like we were,” Santana said. “They didn’t share the ball as much, and there were a lot of one-on-one match-ups. We were able to see that in the second half.”