Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Framingham Hangs On For Big Win Over BSC Rival Natick
By Jason Siegel (@jasiegel1821)
NATICK, Mass. - Coming into a late-season game against their rival Redhawks of Natick High School, the Framingham Flyers knew they needed to win three of their final five regular-season contests to qualify for tournament play.
On Tuesday night in Natick, Framingham (8-8, 6-8 Bay State Conference) received a complete team effort and fended off a furious rally by the Redhawks (11-6, 9-6 Bay State Conference) to pick up a 61-60 victory.
Framingham head coach Ben Torbert was happy with his team’s effort and resiliency.
Torbert is confident that his squad will always compete and fight, adding that Framingham has hung with tough opponents, such as Needham and Brookline. The Flyers also have quality wins over Newton North, Wellesley, and now Natick.
Framingham showed the ability to hang around throughout the contest. The Redhawks flew out to a 20-13 lead in the first quarter, courtesy of 11 points from junior captain Peter Ryan, who led all scorers with 26 points, to go along with 10 rebounds and 3 steals.
A bucket and a free throw by Framingham senior Gio Aga (16 points) cut the Natick advantage to 20-16 at the start of the second period.
The Flyers began the second quarter on an 11-3 run. Aga and senior captain Jared Gordon-Anderson (team-high 19 points, 5 boards) scored 10 points over that span.
The Redhawks responded with a 6-1 run of their own, headlined by a reverse layup made by Ryan while he fell to the floor.
After Natick cut its deficit to 31-29, Aga made two free throws, extending the Flyer halftime lead to 33-29.
Framingham continued to maintain their lead throughout the third quarter. After a three-pointer and driving layup by Natick junior captain Sho Kinugawa cut the Flyer lead to 37-34, baskets by Aga, Gordon-Anderson and senior Aaron Jaynes (9 points, 5 rebounds) extended Framingham’s advantage to 46-38.
Gordon-Anderson and Ryan exchanged baskets as the third quarter came to a close, allowing Framingham to end the third quarter with a 48-40 lead.
The Redhawks opened the fourth period with a 6-2 run, capped off by a steal and a layup by Kinugawa, which cut the Framingham lead to 50-46. Kinugawa collected 5 steals in the contest, to go along with 16 points and 2 rebounds.
Framingham senior captain Jack Diconza (7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals) responded with a key three-pointer that gave the Flyers a 53-46 lead. A basket by Jaynes made the Natick deficit nine with under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Natick answered with a 12-1 run, with Ryan and Kinugawa leading the charge.
After a bucket by junior Will Brodnitzki, Kinugawa drilled a three-pointer. After forcing a steal and being fouled while attempting a breakaway layup, Kinugawa hit two free throws, cutting the Framingham lead to 55-53.
Following a free throw by Jaynes, junior Kyle DeWitt found classmate Jahden Erold for an easy layup. On Natick’s next possession, Ryan hit a corner three, giving Natick a 58-56 lead.
Coach Torbert said he was not surprised when the Redhawks made a comeback.
“We knew (Natick) was going to make a run,” Torbert said. “(The Redhawks) are never out of a game… they make quick runs,” Torbert added.
Torbert’s senior-laden squad was quick to respond. A three-pointer by Diconza gave the Flyers a 59-58 lead with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After one free throw from both Ryan and Brodnitzki tied the game at 60, Aga hit a free throw with 26 seconds remaining, giving the Flyers a 61-60 lead.
The Redhawks inbounded the ball with 26 seconds remaining, looking to complete the comeback. Before they could get a shot off, the Redhawks turned the ball over on a double dribbling violation with 10.4 seconds remaining.
Natick was not out of it yet, however. After the Flyers missed two free throws, Natick got the rebound with no timeouts and under ten ticks remaining.
The Redhawks inbounded the ball from in front of their bench with 2.1 seconds remaining. Brodnitzki missed a desperation heave as the buzzer sounded, allowing the Flyers to escape with a 61-60 victory.
Gordon-Anderson credited his team’s experience for their ability to pull out a tight win on the road against their rival.
“I think it’s sheer experience,” Gordon-Anderson said after the win. “We’ve had close games with top teams… We’ve been there before, and we were able to come out on top (on Tuesday).”
Coach Torbert was very relieved that his team held on to win.
“Luckily, we made just enough plays at the end (to win),” Torbert said after the contest.
The Flyers demonstrated their experience down the stretch against Natick. They controlled much of the second and third quarters. When Natick took the lead midway through the fourth period, Framingham responded swiftly and quickly regained the lead.
Framingham still has some work to do. They need to win two of their final four games in order to qualify for the tournament. However, despite being 8-8, the Flyers have experience and depth, and if they reach the tournament, they are not a group to be taken lightly.
Torbert’s team travels to Brookline on Thursday.
Natick has already qualified for the D1 Central tournament, so this was not a must-win game for the Redhawks. It’s never fun to lose on your home court to your rival, but they deserve credit for not giving up. They fought their way back into the game and had a chance to make a game-winning shot with under 30 seconds remaining.
The Redhawks will look to return to winnings ways on Thursday when they host BSC Herget rival Wellesley.