WAREHAM – It’s an age-old basketball strategy, but more often than not, it works.
Using a “box and one” defense in order to throw a wrench into Sandwich High point guard Joey Downes’ rhythm, the Wareham High Vikings perfected that strategy Thursday night and walked away with a 62-59 victory at the Montague Gymnasium.
Downes, who poured in a career-high 36 points versus Barnstable last week in the season-opener for both teams, was held to five points by the host Vikings who on the other end, according to coach Dennis Green, seemed incapable of missing their shots.
“I thought we did a good job defensively,” Green said. “We’d get in their shirt but they’d just kick it out and bury a three.”
Case and point: Wareham senior guard Mike Labonte drilled six three-pointers as part of his 20-point scoring binge in just that fashion.
“We’d put a hand in his face and move it one inch and he’d hit the shot. He couldn’t miss,” Green said.
Adding to the Blue Knight’s woes was senior captain Andy White who tacked on 18 points from the floor.
But picking up where Downes simply was not allowed to, was Sandwich’s big man Henry “Hank” O’Brien who handed in a superlative effort with the numbers to back up that assessment. O’Brien poured in 17 points and tore down 18 rebounds and was highly commended by Coach Green afterwards.
“This was a tough, tough game,” Green said. “But we got a big game from Hank and Scotty (Reels). Six of Hank’s rebounds were offensive.”
Scotty Reels, who along with O’Brien and Downes is a senior captain this season, was red-hot in the first half with 11 points, but his shot grew cold in the second frame and he netted only two points down the home stretch. Dante Lambros had 12 points for the Blue Knights as did Mike Migliore who actually helped keep Sandwich in the game given Downes was stopped cold. Migliore’s 12 points were the accumulation of hitting four downtown treys. It’s just that Wareham hit many more of those shots on the other end.
“They stuck nine three’s,” Coach Green said. “They’d penetrate and dish and penetrate and dish. We had our chances.”
Sandwich was down by as little as two points in the fourth quarter as time began to elapse quickly, but the shots would simply not fall as the game neared the end.
Sandwich will seek to get back on the right track on Monday against Martha’s Vineyard.
Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm.