NEW BEDFORD — Hard work always pays off.
So with that credo in mind in a grueling but worthwhile week of practice in between games, Barnstable High’s boys basketball team (1-1) made it a happy bus ride home after defeating New Bedford (0-1) Friday night on the road, 50-47, in overtime. It was the Whaler’s season-opener and it was sweet redemption for the Red Raiders after losing a tough one last Friday
night at the hands of Sandwich. It also spoiled the coaching debut of first-year Whaler helmsman Bonzie Colson.
“Defensively, we were fantastic,” Barnstable head coach Chuck Kipnes said. “We worked real hard this week and we took pride in our man-to-man (responsibility) first.”
Facing one of the state’s top-20 high school players in Tyree Weston — a 6’2″ shooting guard who has received athletic scholarship offers from Boston University, Boston College, URI and a roster spot at Brown — Kipnes said he put senior Deon Bell and sophomore Tavian Miranda in charge of shutting the top prospect down. The plan worked. Weston finished the night with one point. New Bedford’s top scorer on the night — a 6’3″ bolt of lightning by the name of Quincy Pope — scored 20 points and hauled in six offensive rebounds. He also nailed eight free throws.
But it was Barnstable’s junior point guard Nate Balthazard and junior center Eric Holzman whose single digit free throws in overtime solidified the victory.
“It was Nate’s only point of the game and it was the most important point,” Kipnes said. Down by two in the extra-session, Miranda provided more heroics when he laid in an offensive rebound to make it 45-45 with 3:13 to go. The game-winner came when Elijah Baptiste dropped a downtown missile that broke the 45-45 deadlock and put the visitors ahead to stay.
Holzman poured in a brilliant double-double on the night with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Baptiste drilled a trio of three-pointers in the second half and then the grand-finale bomb in overtime for the game-clincher. He finished with 14 points to match Holzman’s output. Barnstable’s Keyshawn Eddy talled 8 points on the night, half of which came when he went 4-4 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter as time ticked down.
Coach Kipnes called Holzman’s performance “immense,” but added that it was Baptiste who flipped it into a different gear altogether in the second half.
“Elijah was out sick from school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kipnes said. “So he didn’t practice and just came to watch on Wednesday and he looked terrible. He practiced Thursday and had a great practice. He didn’t do so well in the first half tonight so we told him at halftime to make the second half his and he did just that.”
Added to Barnstable’s successful formula to stave off an always tough New Bedford five, was the fact that the Red Raiders turned the ball over only 12 times and added a combined 24 blocked shots, deflections and steals.
The Red Raiders had a chance to win the game as the fourth quarter of regulation time drew to an end.
Tied at 43-43 with 1:46 left in the game after Eddy laced a pair of free throws, both teams missed shots in a flurry of exchanged possessions. Barnstable missed one more opportunity to win it in regulation with 21 seconds to go but New Bedford had possession. Eddy stole the ball and was about at half court when the shot clock buzzer errantly went off, thus forcing Eddy to throw up a desperation half-court bomb. With overtime looming, Kipnes said he decided to maintain his composure and not argue the game management miscue, he explained.
“They said it was a mistake but they couldn’t change the shot clock,” Kipnes said. “We make that stop and we have 11 seconds left with a fastbreak, but I knew we’d go into overtime. We noticed in practice and watching film this week that Deon (Bell) and Elijah (Baptiste) need to be challenged or they just fall into a sort of defensive sleep out there. Not tonight. Tonight, they rose to the challenge.”
Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm.