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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
In their first matchup earlier in the year, the Medfield Warriors knocked off the Westwood Wolverines basketball team, 62-55. In the rematch on Friday night, the Wolverines would get their revenge in a one-sided drubbing of Medfield, 68-50.
From the onset, it was clear this game would be very different. Westwood jumped out to a 25-7 lead in the first quarter, forcing turnovers seemingly at will and hitting six threes. The only blemish came when Favor Wariboko missed a dunk that would have sent the already-raucous home crowd into a frenzy, though he was fouled on the attempt.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Westwood forcing turnovers and hitting threes, until they were up 34-12. A couple clutch shots from Aidan Finn kept the Warriors in it, but too many turnovers from Medfield, some nice offensive sets from Westwood, and a beautiful, low bounce pass in transition from Mark James to James Bean for a layup left Westwood up, 44-22, at the half.
Medfield’s Aidan Clarke did well to establish himself in the third, but Westwood was just too good overall. James McGowan was going behind the back, hitting threes, midrange jump shots and blowing by anyone trying to run out on him. Patrick Reilly was finishing reverse layups. Mark James was finishing with his left hand at the rim. At the end of the third, the game was 63-34.
With the game essentially over, Medfield deserves credit for how well they fought in the fourth. While the last thing Westwood would want to do is to foul, Medfield played strongly and found their way to the free throw line on numerous occasions. John Bochiechio had a nice quarter of play, but it was too little too late. The Wolverines won, 68-50.
What was the difference between Westwood’s loss in December and their win in January? According to coach Steve St. Martin, intensity and getting healthy.
“I think we played with a lot more intensity and sense of urgency than we did that first game, and getting a few guys back in the lineup was very helpful for us, too,” said the coach. “But credit to the guys. They went out and executed a lot of things we were working on in practice all week for us. They played really hard [in] the third game of this week. James Mcgowan (who had 21 points) shot very well and scored very well, and then defensively, you have guys like Favor Wariboko (who had ten points), Mark James, James Bean and Pat Reilly - because the way we play defense, everybody participates in their roles. I think everybody did well with that, which made it a lot easier.”
With the win, the now 11-2 Wolverines (who played in special “The Wood” alternate jerseys) qualified for the postseason tournament.
The Warriors, on the other hand dropped to 4-8 on the year. While Westwood’s coach noted the difference between his team’s loss and their win was “intensity,” Warriors coach Herb Grace had the same answer.
“The intensity, their intensity. Their guard, number fourteen, McGowan, was unstoppable,” said Coach Grace. “He was just in the zone tonight. But their overall intensity, their effort was much better than ours was tonight. When you play against this team, you’ve got to take care of the ball. Their defensive pressure is extremely intense, and you’ve got to be alert and have good instincts. Tonight, it just wasn’t there.”
As for positives he could take away, Coach Grace noted that the guys who played in the fourth quarter looked good, while they don’t tend to get much playing time.
“The group that played in the fourth quarter were some guys that don’t get much playing time … they came in and competed and they had some good energy and played well together, so it was good to see those guys contribute. We just took one on the chin and we’ve got to learn from it and get back at it on Tuesday.”