It’s rare — although not unheard of — for a high school basketball team to overcome a double-digit point deficit, especially in the late going.
As the gap widens, you can almost see the air go out of the team that’s behind and no amount of coaching savvy, no volume of colorfully costumed fans shouting “DEE-fense” and no hopes and prayers can bring it back.
These are kids, after all — 16, 17 and 18 for the most part. And if they are on the road or in a high-pressure game, like a playoff, then they are likely to react like kids, typical teens who let their emotions run away with them. That’s why we call them “immature” and don’t let them do “mature” things like vote or sign contracts or (we hope) get tattooed.
When you feel the momentum of a game change in front of you — and you know it when you see it — that, as they say, is the ballgame. The lady of size is about to burst into her aria. It’s all over bar the shouting. Except when it isn’t. Except when that team is this year’s girls basketball squad of Foxboro High.
On Saturday, with a sectional title and a third trip to the state semifinals in four years on the line, the Warriors saw it all slipping away as the Hingham Harbormen overtook and then opened up a 10 and then an 11 point lead on Foxboro in the third quarter at Taunton High School.
It’s not that Foxboro could not be beaten this year. The Warriors did lose two of 20 regular season games, including one to the Franklin High Panthers, who showed that all you need to beat Foxboro is a 6’4” center. (Ali Brigham is a George Washington University-bound senior whose prowess has generated considerable press clippings. When she steps on the court, it looks like nothing so much as a teacher joining a pickup game of preschoolers.)
But the Warriors had proven a week ago how focused they can be and that revenge is a dish best served on the basketball court, having dispatched Pembroke High 56-43, the team that bounced Foxboro in the semifinal round of the South Sectionals last year.
There is a maturity about this team, a resilience at the core, that makes a difference. Coach Lisa Downs has noted it before. “I have seniors who a year ago would have crumbled,” Downs said.
Not this time.
Two of those seniors, Yara Fawaz and Shakirah Ketant, hit pairs of free throws to pull Foxboro within 40-36 of Hingham with two minutes left. It was Ketant, with a 15-foot jumper, who got the lead back for the Warriors at 44-43 a minute into the fourth quarter. Senior Lizzy Davis added to that with a pair of free throws.
Foxboro outscored Hingham 11-2 over the final four minutes of the game with junior (and 1,000 point scorer) Katelyn Mollica scoring and then nailing pairs of free throws with 24 and 17 seconds to go.
The Warriors managed to put a suffocating amount of pressure on the Hingham offense, limiting the them to just one field goal over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We are a second half team for the most part. We were just a little more poised on offense. I’m just so proud of them,” Downs said.
Fawaz noted, “I think we really just came back together as a team and kept our composure. So I think that’s really important. We definitely had a lot more experience playing together.”
She and her teammates were hoping that experience could last another couple of games.