Make it 4 in a row
Full-court pressure defense hasn’t been something the Hollis Brookline High School boys basketball team has worked on a lot this season.
But watching Tuesday night’s game against St. Thomas, you wouldn’t have known.
The Cavaliers opened the game with a 14-2 run in first three minutes, forced the Saints into 26 turnovers and coasted to a 57-42 victory in a Division II game.
Logan Blake led the way for HB (6-2) with 12 points while Matt Fothergill and Cole Gallant each chipped in with 10 points. The Cavs were playing without center Shea Whalen, and with a smaller lineup, head coach Mike Soucy wanted to mix things up.
“We tried something new, extending our defense and trying to play more man-to-man,” Soucy said. “That was the goal for (Tuesday), to get better at that part of our game, because I think we need to be more than a one-trick pony as the season progresses.
“We’ve done it a couple of times, usually when we have some guys out. It’s just a matter of using a little bit of small ball and using some of our quickness and our athleticism to try to speed the tempo of the game up.”
It worked right from the opening tip, as St. Thomas (4-4) struggled to get into its offense for most of the first quarter. When a Ryan Papineau jumper made it 14-2 with 5:09 left in the first, St. Thomas coach Dave Sokolnicki called for a time out.
“We had some young guys out there who didn’t step up,” he said. “You can’t spot them that lead and then turn the ball over 26 times, half of which went for layups, and expect to compete. They forced our hand a bit and we didn’t react well enough and they got some easy looks. You can’t do that against this team and win.”
For the Cavs, the early timeout was a small victory on the road to the win.
“When we broke the final huddle, I said to them ‘let’s make them call a time out in the first two minutes,’?” Soucy said. “When they finally did, the kids came over and said ‘is three minutes good enough?’?”
The lead was 10 for HB at the end of the first quarter and an 8-1 run to open the second put the Cavs up 28-11 midway through the quarter. St. Thomas cut the lead to 14 at halftime and made it a 10-point game on a jumper by Guy Kassas (team-high 15 points) with 3:12 left in the third.
But HB answered with a 6-0 run and ended the quarter up 51-37. The lead was 20 points with 5:14 left, but the Cavs didn’t score the rest of the way.
“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but we started the way we wanted to,” Soucy said. “I think it’s important when you’re playing a team that’s maybe not as good as you are, to maybe get off to a good start.”
HB 42, Portsmouth 38
Hollis Brookline put together a fourth-quarter run to knock off Portsmouth on Friday night, 42-38.
Portsmouth came into Hollis Brookline with a high powered offense in the first quarter. However the Clippers had difficulty knocking down open shots throughout the game. Hollis Brookline senior Shea Whalen didn’t make Portsmouth’s night any easier by swatting shots left and right. Between Whalen’s presence inside and a pesky zone defense, Portsmouth only scored one point in the second quarter, on a De’Vonn Wilson-Miles free throw.
With 2:51 to go in the second quarter, senior Cole Gallant received a perimeter pass, put the ball on the floor and went up strong creating contact and scoring the basket. Gallant would convert on the three-point play giving Hollis Brookline a 16-15 lead that it sustained until halftime.
“We needed to do a better job at the free throw line,” Hollis Brookline coach Michael Soucy said. “We missed layups and a whole bunch of free throws. That was the difference in the first half.”
Portsmouth figured out their offense by the time the third quarter rolled around. A pair of three point field goals by seniors Zac Hansler and Donovan Phanor opened up an 11-4 run to start the second half. The Clippers built a lead as big as nine points but Hollis Brookline narrowed the deficit to five for the start of the fourth quarter.
While Shea Whalen used his 6-6 frame on defense during the first half, his dominant play in the paint came into effect as well. Whalen connected on two fourth-quarter, three-point plays. With under two minutes to play, senior Daniel Bentall picked up a loose ball in the Portsmouth backcourt and layed it off the glass and in.
Bentall was fouled and missed the free throw, but the Cavaliers fought for an offensive rebound.
Junior Matt Fothergill picked the right time to do all of his scoring. He fired up the hometown crowd by weaving into the lane and knocking down a floater, giving Hollis Brookline a 37-36 lead. After a Portsmouth basket, Fothergill hit a 3-pointer with under a minute to play tht kept the Cavaliers’ lead at two.
Fothergill finished the game with five points. Cole Gallant sealed the win with two free throws.
“I’ve got a group of seniors that care so much about this program and each other,” Soucy said. “They just keep fighting to the end and I give them all the credit in the world.”
Correspondent Brian Schnee contributed to this report.