Finally, it paid off.

The Hawks used full-court pressure for nearly the full game, and it broke St. Dominic Academy at the end. The fourth quarter belonged to the Hawks, who only led once, but it was the only lead that mattered in a 35-34 WMC boys’ basketball victory at Callahan Family Memorial Gymnasium on Tuesday.

“The guys got down on themselves early because they weren’t getting the stops that they normally get,” Hawks coach Ben Murphy said, “but we just told them it’s a 32-minute game and you got to play for all 32, and we needed every, single second of the 32 to get it done.”

The Hawks (3-8) first sent out the press just over 1:30 into the game, and it led to turnovers by the Saints (0-11) on their first two possessions facing it.

The only problem for the Hawks was trying to produce any offense. They made just one field goal and trailed 9-4 after one quarter.

The Saints kept building on that lead from there. They went to the locker room up 22-11 at halftime, and took a 31-19 lead into the fourth quarter.

Advertisement

Sam Rines paced the Saints with 12 points through three quarters, but he wasn’t able to build on that total in the final frame.

“They did a nice job clamping down on Sam the fourth quarter, and slowing him down,” St. Dom’s coach Jacob Webb said. “He’s obviously our No. 1 option, and when he struggles we struggle a little bit off the ball.”

Meanwhile, Brandon Sloan came alive offensively for the Hawks in the fourth, scoring 10 of his game-high 17 points. That included the eventual game-winning 3-pointer out of timeout with 1:49 left.

“He’s the smallest guy on the floor a lot of times, and with Cameron (Cyr) home sick, Brandon, we leaned on him a lot to kind of make plays, get to the rim, score. And he stepped up when he absolutely had to,” Murphy said.

Sloan also factored into a defensive effort that held St. Dom’s to just three points in the fourth. The Saints were done in by playing only six players all game due to injury, and having to deal with a mounting Sacopee Valley press.

“It takes a little bit out of you. It definitely takes a little bit out of you,” Webb said. “We beat it most of the game. The guys got a little tired going down to the end, and it tires you out. That’s basically what it does.”

Advertisement

“We just thought that trying to speed them up and turn them over might be our best way to go,” Murphy said. “It didn’t work for about three quarters, but we got it done in the fourth.”

The Hawks had a balanced offensive effort behind Sloan, while missing their leading scorer in Cyr. Tyler Weeks added five points, with Michael Murphy and Alex Mudgett scoring four apiece.

A.J. Parisi scored eight points for St. Dom’s, including a 3 at the buzzer to end the first half.

The Saints are still looking for their first win of the season, and first since the 2014-15 season. Tuesday might have been their best shot.

“It’s pretty tough,” Webb said. “Our guys haven’t been in that position a lot the last year and a half. It was a tough spot. They played hard, they worked hard through it, and I probably could have done a little more to help them out.”

Murphy made sure to praise the Saints’ effort after the game.

“I thought they outplayed us for about three quarters, to be honest with you,” Murphy said. “Those guys have had a tough season, and you wouldn’t know it by watching them. They play with intensity, they play smart, and they really frustrated us for three quarters.

“We were absolutely lucky to get out of here with this victory today.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.