Thursday, February 22, 2018

Keefer Delivers In Clutch to Send Cambridge Into The State Tournament with a Win

By: Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Cambridge, Mass. – In the waning moments of its final regular season game, Cambridge showed flashes of their two-time defending champion selves. 

With the Falcons and visiting Franklin tied at 49 and less than two minutes to go, Aidan Keefer connected on a baseline jumper to push Cambridge in front by two. At the other end, meanwhile, Cambridge’s defense took control and came away with three consecutive stops.

Khai Smith (9 points, 12 rebounds) and Jhyko Neal each split trips to the free throw line and the Falcons held on for a 53-49 win over Franklin at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School.

For a while, it looked as though Keefer’s game winning jump shot was never going to be a possibility.

Midway through the third quarter, a Keefer turnover led to a Jack Rodgers bucket and as a result a trip to the bench.

Keefer remained substituted out of the game for nearly six minutes before Cambridge coach Lance Dottin called on the senior guard in crunch time.

“(Aidan) was able to put the turnover behind because he was on the bench after to think about it,” said Dottin. “He’s a guy that been around for four years, he’s meant so much for the program. He could go down as one of the top winners in this school.”

Franklin held a 26-25 lead coming out of the locker room, but quickly gained some breathing room.

Samuels used his length down low to convert on a pair of possessions, Rodgers’ layup off the Keefer turnout put the Panthers up 36-28.

Out of a timeout, the Falcons instituted some diamond pressure in an effort to speed the Panthers’ guards up.

The maneuver paid off.

Cambridge (18-2) went on a 9-0 run, highlighted by an Adrian Williams four-point play, to go in front 37-36.

Franklin, however, reclaimed the lead before the end of the frame with Samuels once again converting in the right block to put Franklin up 41-37 heading into the fourth quarter.

Smith (9 points, 12 rebounds) began the fourth with a pair of baskets in the paint to tie the score at 41.

Cambridge then took its largest lead of the game with just over four minutes left.

A third opportunity led to an Elliot Harris trey from the corner, and Williams quickly followed up with one of his own to push Cambridge up 49-45.

Samuels fouled out moments later, but the Panthers remained poised.

Mahon picked off a Neal pass and finished for two, and Rodgers drove the length of the floor to tie the score at 49 and set up Keefer’s game winning shot.

“Early in the game I thought some of our guys were not ready to play,” said Dottin. “Every year we want to play at the end of the year one of the better teams in the state. We want this atmosphere for the tournament and these guys got to understand that come next week this crowd will be even bigger.”

In the early going it looked like sophomore Chris Edgehill was going to be the story of the night as his seven first quarter points helped give the Panthers a 15-10

Edgehill and Samuels, however, each picked up their second foul early in the second quarter forcing them to the bench for the remainder of the half.

Cambridge’s offense, meanwhile, found its straight as they went on a 10-1 run topped off by a Keefer transition layup to go in front, 20-16.

With Edgehill and Samuels on the bench, Rodgers and Matt Elias stepped up to fill the void.

Elias scored four points over the final minute, while Rodgers mixed in a strong finish, to give Franklin a 26-25 lead at the half.

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