Wareham and Dedham battle basket for basket
Going into the Division 3 South Quarter Finals, Wareham High School’s boys basketball coach Steve Faniel had a simple game plan…”win.” Standing in the Vikings’ way, was a fundamentally sound, and aggressive Dedham High School team. The two teams battled basket for basket for four quarters, until Faniel’s plan came to fruition at the final buzzer.
Wareham was slow to start, giving up a 7-0 lead within the first couple minutes of play. The vikings finally started heating up midway through the first quarter with steals on defense, and quick passing and running on offense, establishing their first lead of 8-7 with about 3:15 left on the clock.
Not to be outdone, Dedham players rallied back with five unanswered points. From there, the Vikings gained momentum once again, in the final moments of the first quarter.
With less than a minute to go, junior guard, Darien Gibson stole the ball and drove towards the hoop, where he collided with a Dedham defender. Referees gave Gibson, and Dedham’s Matt Ryan two free throws each. After the boys made their shots, Dedham led by two, but Wareham’s Joseph Silvia closed out the first quarter with a steal and a layup to tie the game at 17-17.
Much of the second quarter was a back, and forth battle, with neither team able to establish a significant lead.
Wareham started to pull away towards the end of the half, hammered home by a steal, and an emphatic slam dunk from senior forward Destine Haywood-Gomes, bringing the score to 32-26.
Dedham fought back once again in the final minutes of the second quarter, ending the first half with a score of 38-36 for Wareham.
After returning to the court for the second half, both teams ramped up the intensity, and increased the physicality of their play. At one point, Wareham established a double digit lead after a quick succession of points, but the lead was lost as quickly as it was built, as Dedham wouldn’t go away without a fight.
Dedham pushed through to regain the lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
With a mere 16.4 seconds left on the clock, the Vikings were down 65-62, and in desperate need of a three point shot.
After a time out, the Vikings made a quick series of passes, and sent the ball to Haywood-Gomes on the edge of the court, who came in clutch to tie the game.
Just as the game seemed destined for overtime, senior guard Bryce Fernandes tipped the ball away from Dedham’s offense, and back into the hands of Haywood-Gomes, who sealed victory right at the buzzer with a layup, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
After the game Haywood-Gomes said Dedham moved the ball well, and was a well coached, but that his team came out on top because “no matter what, we did not give up.”
When asked about what it was like to make the game-winning play, he said “it feels great, I never experienced something like this before.
Silvia reflected on the Vikings fast-paced style throughout the game, and said “we just want to keep [Dedham] on their feet, and keep the ball hot.”
While the play that led to the game-tying three pointer may have surprised the crowd, coach Faniel said that he has his players drill it at the end of every practice, for situations exactly like the one they faced on Saturday night.
The Wareham Vikings will next play Burke High School in Taunton on March 3 at 5:30 p.m. Faniel said that his team was eliminated by Burke in the semifinals last year, and that they have been looking forward to redemption.