Teamwork and determination lead Boys Basketball to beat Wachusett in close game



After holding a lead over most of the match, Brookline fell behind Wachusett in the fourth frame of the game. Thankfully, guidance from Coach Valentine during timeout motivated Brookline to pick it back up and secure a 4-2 win.

The Warriors managed a tight non-conference victory over the Wachusett Regional Mountaineers (4-2) in the Schluntz Gymnasium on Friday, Jan. 14. While all is fair in love and war, the wisdom might not extend to high school basketball as the home side racked up 24 team fouls, a small asterisk on the team’s now 6-0 record.

The Warriors started hot, with senior Devani Perez’s 3-pointer bringing the game to life early. Senior Jack Stanton followed up with a strong showing in the paint to make the score 7-2, forcing Mountaineers Coach Tom Gibbons into an early timeout.

Foul trouble started early for the Warriors and did not let up, with the majority of Mountaineer buckets coming from the free-throw line.

On the other side of the floor, senior Zach Solem and junior Makyle Hayes kept scoring hot, both knocking down 3-pointers through traffic to help Brookline to a 22-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The brief intermission did not do the Warriors any favors as they found themselves in the foul bonus before their first bucket early in the second quarter. The Mountaineers took what was given to them, cutting the deficit to two by connecting on nearly every Brookline turn-over and foul.

The Warriors managed to get their form back just in time thanks to sophomore Andrew Alekseyenko knocking down a tough 3-pointer shot to make it 25-20. Pulling the team out of tough spots was the sophomore’s modus operandi all night.

Indicative of the night’s defensive display, the Warriors managed to commit a trio of fouls in a confusing sequence that pushed them into the double bonus. Wachusett continued their efficient performance from the free-throw line to end the half down 33-24.

Brookline failed to build on their lead early in the second half, but an Alekseyenko flush and solid work inside from Perez pushed the Warrior’s lead to 42-29.

Not ones for consistency, a flurry of fouls and turnovers required yet another clutch 3-pointer from Alekseyenko to keep the lead a manageable 47-43 to end the third quarter.

The fourth frame wasn’t for the faint of heart as Brookline found themselves in the bonus once again. An empty trip to the free-throw line from Solem saw their lead tick down to a single point after four minutes.

An animated coach Courtney Valentine took his Warrior side to the bench, the crowd quiet as clutch time approached with the score in a near deadlock.

A new tactical approach wasn’t instantly recognizable as the Mountaineers took the lead for the first time of the night, though luckily for Brookline, it also proved to be their last.

“We knew that we had to stay together and keep playing our game,” Solem said afterwards. “In tight games like that we knew it was important to to stay calm and make sure every possession was a good one”

And play their game they did. Alekseyenko was locked in late, knocking in an impressive effort from beyond the arc and, with a Solem lay in between, intercepted a loose pass that led to a make at the free-throw line.

The last four minutes of gametime were the Warrior’s best defensively, forcing Wachusett into bad looks that netted points in transition. With time winding down, Hayes sealed the game late at 59-55.

Alekseyenko (18 points) said his coach’s late timeout was the deciding factor that turned a poor fourth quarter into Brookline’s sixth win.

“Coach Valentine told us to step up the energy and start playing for each other,” Alekseyenko said. “As soon as we heard that, we got back into the game and got the win.”