Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Natick Pulls Away from Wellesley

By Kyle Schroeder (@kyschroeder81)

Wellesley, Mass. - At this point in the season, every game is crucial for the Natick and Wellesley high boys' basketball teams. Both teams came in 12-5 and were looking to better their position before heading into post-season play. In their first meeting in Natick, Wellesley came away with a 62-59 win in overtime. The tables were turned in the rematch, as Natick went on a couple runs in the second half to win by the comfortable score of 59-44.

After trailing for the entirety of the first half, Wellesley was able to the tie the game at 26 all early in the third quarter when senior guard Ryan Murrey found senior forward Alex Barron on a cut to the basket. It seemed as if Wellesley had found itself, and was about to make it a game. Natick denied that possibility and immediately went on a 10-0 run to push the lead back up to 10.

The run started with senior guard Kyle DeWitt hitting a three off a screen, which was then followed by a floater scored by senior center Will Brodnitzki, a dunk off a turnover by senior forward Jahden Erold, and a three pointer by Brodnitzki.

The Raiders were still alive after that, and came knocking at the door again early in fourth quarter, cutting the lead down to four. Like the first time Wellesley got it close, Natick went on a sizable run; and like the first run the Redhawks made, the run was started by a DeWitt three pointer. Including the DeWitt triple, Natick went on a 17-6 run in the fourth quarter pushing the lead to 56-41 with around two minutes to play.

“In that run we there was great defense, intensity, and toughness,” said Natick head coach Sam Doner. “We were playing hard off the ball as well. It was awesome to see”.

In big games towards the end of the season, teams need to get their best performances out of their best players. Natick certainly got that from Jahden Erold on Tuesday night, as he showed off his very versatile skill set. He was a force on the boards with three offensive put backs in the first half, and also led the team with three assists, while playing lockdown defense using his length.

“When he gets into the flow of the game he is by far one of our best defenders. He does a phenomenal job guarding the other team’s best player every night. When he gets into the flow of the game on offense with fast breaks, rebounds, moving the ball, and playing with rhythm it is hard to beat us,” said Doner.

Erold finished second on the team in scoring with 11 points.

DeWitt off the bench ended up being the x-factor for Natick as he scored 10 points with eight of them coming at important times. He had the aforementioned clutch three pointers and then he pick pocketed Wellesley guard Anthony Lumley which resulted in an easy two points to put the lead at 11 during Natick’s fourth quarter run.

“We are looking to have that type of impact from every player off the bench. Today it was Kyle. He wasn’t thinking, he was very confident and it showed on the court,” said Doner.

It was a rough first half for both teams, as there were several missed open looks. The result of that was a 23-19 score at halftime with the advantage going to Natick.

One of the lone bright spots in the first half offensively was Natick senior guard Sho Kinugawa. Kinugawa drew a foul on three pointer, knocked down all the free throws, got to the basket and finished using an effective hesitation move, and hit an open three. This netted Kinugawa eight points in the first half and 12 overall.

On the Wellesley side, Alex Barron lead the team in scoring with 12 with sharpshooter Ryan Murrey coming after Barron with 11 points.

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