Boys' basketball to face Braintree in MIAA State Tournament opener

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The Newtonite

by Jonny Levenfeld

Boys’ basketball, 17-3, wrapped up yet another successful regular season Monday, Feb. 17 with a 67-57 win over Belmont in the consolation round of the Comcast Basketball Classic at Babson College.

The Tigers were eliminated from contention at Babson the day before, falling to rival Brookline 50-40. Coach Paul Connolly was disappointed that the team did not show its “best effort mentally and physically” against the Warriors. However, Connolly was pleased to finish on a high note against Belmont.

The fifth-seeded Tigers will now shift their attention to the MIAA State Tournament, as they are set to kick off postseason play tonight at 6:30 against Braintree, the 12 seed.

While the Wamps’ 12-8 record is underwhelming compared to the Tigers’, they have proven to be a tough opponent throughout the year. On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Tigers hosted Braintree and picked up a 66-56 win. A couple weeks later, on Friday, Jan. 31, the Tigers earned a tight 66-60 victory on the road against the Wamps.

“Braintree is a tough team with a great point guard in sophomore Keyshaad Dixon,” said senior Jack Boucher, a captain with senior Liam Bruno and junior Tommy Mobley.

Boucher said that he expects the Wamps to try to limit the offensive production of sharpshooter Mobley, which will hopefully free up other players to carry the scoring load.

“We know they are going to try to take Tommy away, so that’s just going to give space for Liam, junior Sam Jefferson, sophomore Nate Hollenberg, junior Brett Stanton, and me to make things happen.”

Boucher also believes that offense will not be a problem for the Tigers going forward, and that their postseason fate will ultimately hinge on their performance on the defensive end.

“We will go as far in the tournament as our defense takes us. We know we have the firepower on offense, we just have to clamp down and trust each other and this team could be special,” he said.

According to Connolly, the team has had virtually no easy games, as 16 of the 20 teams the Tigers have faced qualified for the State Tournament. Along with their consistent work ethic, Connolly thinks that the Tigers’ tough matchups throughout the year “will help immensely” entering the Tournament.

“We have a great group of guys who have worked hard in practice everyday and I feel that we are battle-tested,” he said.

Despite a couple of setbacks in losses against Needham and Brookline, Boucher insisted that the team will not make any major modifications.

“We aren’t changing our philosophy of playing hard, playing smart, and playing together,” he said.