Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Brookline Edges Natick in OT

By Jason Siegel (@jasiegel1821)

NATICK, Mass.- The Brookline Warriors outlasted the Natick Redhawks, 81-71, in overtime in a back-and-forth affair on Tuesday night at Natick High School.

In a close contest between two teams fighting for a spot in the MIAA tournament, one star player can put a team over the top.

For Brookline (6-3) on Tuesday night, that player was sophomore Chris Camille, who led all scorers with 27 points, to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Camille keyed the Warriors’ win in overtime, scoring the first seven points of the extra period, putting the game out of reach of the Redhawks (6-3).

Brookline head coach Dave Ford called Camille the “focal point” of his team’s offense, adding that they tried to get Camille open looks, especially down the stretch.

Camille credited his teammates for his high point total, saying modestly that nothing was working for him, but his teammates gave him chances to succeed on offense.

For Brookline, regulation was not as smooth-sailing as the overtime period. The up-and-coming Redhawks fought their way back from three eight-point deficits during the game.

Natick’s first comeback occurred in the first period. A couple of early baskets, including a three-pointer, by sophomore Mark Barrett, who contributed in 20 points, 9 boards, and 2 steals, allowed Brookline to jump out to an 8-0 lead early in the first quarter.

After a couple of buckets by Natick junior captain Sho Kinugawa cut the Warrior lead to 10-8, Brookline went on an 8-2 run, expanding their lead to 18-10.

Natick senior Chris Cardoso (5 points, 2 rebounds) forced a turnover and hit a corner three as the first quarter came to a close. Cardoso’s play cut the Brookline lead to 18-15.

The two teams went back-and-forth throughout the second period, with neither team leading by more than six points. The squads were tied at 32 as they headed to the locker room at halftime.

Both teams came out of the locker room on fire. Two baskets by Natick junior William Brodnitzki (team-high 16 points, 5 rebounds), including an offensive rebound and putback, gave Natick a 37-34 lead.

Trailing by three, the Warriors went on a 13-2 run, with Camille and Barrett accounting for all 13 of Brookline’s points over that span.

The Natick defense stepped up during the second half of the third period, holding Brookline scoreless over the final 4:13 of the third quarter.

With Brodnitzki and junior Jahden Erold (13 points, 2 steals) doing the scoring and junior captain Peter Ryan (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals) leading the charge on defense and starting fast breaks with outlet passes, the Redhawks snatched a four-point lead heading into the fourth period.

Even though his team lost the lead, coach Ford said that the beginning of the third quarter was the "turning point" of the game for the Warriors, because that’s when they began to hit their outside shots.

After Natick extended its lead to 58-52, Camille single-handedly cut the Redhawk advantage down to one. After Camille forced a turnover and turned it into an easy layup, he hit a three-pointer, making the score 58-57.

Barrett gave Brookline the lead with a three-pointer of his own with 4:20 remaining in the fourth period.

After Camille and Barrett made their outside shots, Brodnitzki and Ryan joined the three-point fest, giving Natick a 64-60 lead.

Baskets by, you guessed it, Camille and Barrett tied the game at 64 apiece.

After a bucket by Brookline’s Wesley Delvar (6 points, 2 rebounds) gave the Warriors a 66-65 lead, Ryan hit a free throw to tie the game at 66.

With under 30 seconds to go in regulation, a traveling violation on Brookline gave Natick the ball with 26.5 ticks remaining. Following a missed floater by Kinugawa, Camille came down with the rebound, but some miscommunication on an attempted pass caused the ball to go out of bounds, giving Natick another chance at a game-winner with 8.9 seconds left.

Tight defense by Brookline prevented Natick from attempting a shot on their final possession of regulation, sending the game to overtime, where Camille took over and clinched the victory for Brookline.

Natick showed the ability to hang around and keep a game close, even when the Redhawks were struggling on offense. They continued fighting and made enough shots to force overtime, but ultimately did not have an answer on defense for Camille.

The near future of Natick basketball looks bright, however, as Kinugawa, Ryan, and Erold are all juniors and will be returning next year. Natick will continue its quest to make the tournament in their next game on Friday at Wellesley.

Brookline demonstrated their resiliency, as they found a way to pull out an important win on the road in a tightly contested game. They also have a couple of players in Camille and Barrett who can take over a game and could be a difference maker is close contests.

Brookline will look to stay hot in their upcoming game on Friday night at Framingham.

After the game, Camille said that Brookline will make the playoffs this season, and his teammates said they would hold him that declaration. After a 27-point performance, however, it seems that Camille is up to the task of bringing Brookline to the tournament.

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