In a battle of Middlesex League heavyweights, the Melrose High boys' basketball team held on for a 65-61 win over visiting Wakefield Tuesday night, clinching the league title while improving to 15-0.
After trailing 25-11 at the end of the first quarter, Wakefield (12-4) went on a 13-2 run minus star sophomore guard Bruce Brown and senior captain Kendall Hamilton, both sitting out with 3 early fouls.
Melrose freshman Sherron Harris (25 points) took over though, scoring 10 of his 18 first half points in the second frame to lead the Red Raiders to a 39-32 halftime lead.
“He didn’t play like a freshman in the first half,” said Melrose coach Mike Kasprzak of Harris. “His defense set up most of those plays, though.”
Wakefield senior Mikol Blake-Green, a 6-foot-6 center, dominated the first half with 13 points, but after taking a hard charge, he was not as effective the rest of the way.
The game seemed to be over as Melrose once again closed a quarter with a run, this time taking a 57-45 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to its suffocating pressure defense that forced several Wakefield turnovers. Hamilton picked up two quick whistles and fouled out of the game, seemingly deflating any Wakefield hopes, which trailed 62-47 with just over 4 minutes remaining.
Then Brown took over.
The super sophomore (18 of his 20 points in the second half) just took control of the game on both sides of the ball, creating turnovers and driving to the hoop with ease. On the rare occasion he couldn’t make it to the basket, Brown settled for pull up jumpers – the most important an and-1 three pointer that would cut the deficit to 64-59 with under a minute to play – that fell through the basket with ease.
Wakefield closed within 3 at 64-61 with 4.5 ticks left on the clock, but Melrose senior tri-captain Matthew Sherlock sank one free throw to ice the game.
“They’re a great team,” Kasprzak said of Wakefield. “They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. But we made plays when it mattered, and to beat them twice in a season is outstanding.
“Our kids didn’t quit,” said Wakefield coach Brad Simpson. “They made some big plays down the stretch, and that’s what we’ll take out of it.”
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- Colleen Casey | @ColleenCasey226 | Softball
- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
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