NORWELL – In a state tournament game, one or two plays can often be the difference between advancing to the next round or ending your season.
That proved to be the case Monday night in Norwell as the Foxborough High School boys’ basketball team’s season came down to its final possession.
Trailing 41-38 with 15 seconds left in regulation, Foxborough head coach CJ Neely drew up the inbounds play to set his team up for a 3-pointer that would force overtime.
“We got the exact look we wanted,” Neely said of the last possession. “We ran the play and got [Tim O’Halloran] open for three and just didn’t knock it down.”
Foxborough quickly got the ball to Tim O’Halloran – who had already hit three 3-pointers in the game – in the corner for the game-tying three but the attempt clanked off the rim. Justin Zupanick chased down the rebound and found O’Halloran at the top of the key with five seconds left on the clock. O’Halloran tried to create space, working to the wing of the perimeter, before firing a contested shot at the buzzer that again clanked off the front of the rim.
Just like that, the game – and Foxborough’s season – ended in the preliminary round of the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional State Tournament.
“I think both teams played really hard,” said Neely. “Shots were there for us and we just didn’t knock them down. They made some tough shots and good for them. They made it happen.”
After trailing 9-7 after the first quarter, Foxborough dialed up its offense from downtown, led by two Josh Patkin 3-pointers to build a 19-18 lead at halftime. The Warriors came out strong to start the third quarter, building a 28-20 lead but Norwell chipped away in the final minutes of the quarter, sparked by a 7-0 run. The Clippers held the final possession of the third quarter trailing by three when T.J. Dakin drained an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 30 heading into the fourth quarter.
Norwell and Foxborough continued its defensive struggle through the final eight minutes and while the Warriors had its share of chances to pull ahead they couldn’t knock down the crucial shot when they needed it, leading to the 41-38 loss.
“Defensively, I will take 41 points every game,” Neely said. “Unfortunately I won’t take 38 on offense too often to win.”
Norwell (12-9), the tournament’s 16th seed, advances to play #1 Wareham (19-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Despite the loss, Foxborough enjoyed its most successful season under Neely, finishing the year with an 11-10 record and earned the 17th seed in the tournament.
O’Halloran led the Warriors with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Cam Seeley added nine. Peter Marchetti led Norwell with 15 points.