37-point lead sends Vikings to state championship
BRIDGEWATER — The Wareham Vikings boys basketball team is headed to the state championship for the first time since 2010 after unraveling the Millbury High School Woolies 69-32 in a Final Four game on Wednesday, March 15.
The game was played at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School.
“I feel good,” said Head Coach Steve Faniel. “We understand we had a job to do today, and we did our job today.”
As they played, the Vikings had one goal in mind: “neutralize” (Faniel’s word) Millbury star point guard Kenny Donnelly.
Donnelly was a formidable foe, having scored 27 points in Millbury’s Round of Eight Match against the Bourne Canalmen.
“Our game plan was to stop [Donnelly],” said Vikings Junior point guard Ajay Lopes.
Lopes, a junior, scored two free throws in the first minutes of the first quarter, creating a wide lead that Millbury could not keep up with.
“I think I did good,” Lopes said. “I was being a leader. I did some scoring, but it’s not all about scoring.”
After many near-misses for Millbury, a final buzzer beater from Wareham ended the first quarter with a score of 17-2.
The second quarter, which featured fast footwork from both teams, ended with the Vikings leading 35-10.
“We went out and tried to make things difficult for them,” Faniel said.
Millbury’s score started to climb during the third quarter, but Wareham’s did as well, creating a lead that proved insurmountable.
Faniel said that “great defense” prevented Millbury’s elaborate maneuvers from fazing the Vikings.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Wareham fans started to roar 20 seconds before the timer ran out, as a Vikings victory became certain.
“It feels great,” Lopes said. “To make it this far is big, and it’s been our dream since we were little kids.”
Faniel said that while Wednesday was a night for celebration, he and his team would remain focused on winning the state championship, which would be Wareham’s first in 13 years.
The Vikings will face the Springfield International Charter School Bulldogs in the championship game, to be held at the Tsongas Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Sunday, March 19 at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit tinyurl.com/2dca5c4x.