EAST SANDWICH ─ Pure lightning.
Sandwich High senior point guard Joey Downes ─ already a career 1,000-point scorer ─ poured in 36 hard-earned points Friday night at home as his Blue Knights eclipsed the visiting Barnstable High Red Raiders, 89-75, before a full-packed gymnasium.
Downes scored 14 points in the first half, including a buzzer-beating lay-up that seemed so well-choreographed it had fans wondering what was in store for the second half. With seconds ticking off the clock and down by one, 41-40, Downes split a pair of Barnstable defenders and spun the ball off the glass to take a 42-41 lead into the halftime locker room.
From that point forward, Sandwich maintained control of the entire game from baseline to baseline.
Downes poured in 22 second half points, including an amazing 18 points in the third quarter alone and it appeared midway through the third that Barnstable did not have the endurance to match Downes’ and his teammates’ pace.
“He has hands like glue,” an elated and beaming head coach Dennis Green said after the game. “I thought about going zone in the second half but changed my mind. We had them a little bit on their heels in the second half.”
Still, Green was not arrogant about the season-opening win. Confident but optimistically cautious was more like it.
“It’ll be a lot different on their home court,” Green said. “But once we realized we could play with them and run the court, our confidence was there.”
Barnstable’s shooting ─ which had been pound-for-pound as good as the Blue Knights’ was in the first half ─ petered off in the second half dramatically.
Sure-handed Red Raider senior forward Elijah Baptiste, who had 12 first-half points and was 5-6 from the floor, went 4-8 in the second half. He finished with a team-high 21 points on the night.
New transfer student Deon Bell ─ a gifted senior southpaw who originally hails from Wareham ─ had 10 first-half points contrasted with only six points in the second half. He went 1-9 for field goals in the second half. He finished with 16 points all totaled in his first-ever game for Barnstable High.
Barnstable point guard Nate Balthazard added 14 points as well but he too found it difficult getting the rock to go through the bucket with a 2-8 performance from the floor in the second half. Keyshawn Eddy finished with 10 points on the night.
Downes’s big man beneath the basket ─ senior captain Henry O’Brien ─ was a portrait of precision on the pick-and-roll, pouring in 21 points on the night, 12 of those points in the second half. Senior forward Dante Lambros ─ who missed just one shot on the night ─ had 10 points when the final buzzer rang as did senior captain Scotty Reels.
“Our double-downs were good,” Green said. “Our slides were good. “We wore them down a little bit in the second half.”
The true straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, however, came as the seconds flew off the clock near the end of the third quarter. With Downes wheeling and dealing from the point above the arc and essentially double-teamed by Barnstable, the gifted ball-handler buried an off-balance, running three-pointer at the buzzer that sucked the wind right out of the Red Raiders’ collective sails.
─ Sean Walsh/Cape Cod Broadcasting Media Sports. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm.