ANSLEY WASHBURN AND MILA SEIFERT/SAGAMORE STAFF
BROOKLINE – On Friday Mar. 4, the girls and boys varsity basketball teams faced off against different opponents in the Schluntz Gymnasium in the first round of the MIAA Division I state tournament. Both teams came out victorious in the end, with the girls winning 77-47 and the boys winning 79-62, allowing each team to advance in the playoffs while ending their opponents’ 2022 seasons.
The boys team began their game at 5:15 p.m. in a packed gym with over a hundred estimated fans from each side. The Warriors, ranked 13th in the Division I bracket, faced the 20th ranked Newton South Lions.
Newton South’s boys team took an early lead of ten points against Brookline. By the end of the first quarter, Brookline managed to recover and brought the score to only a 4point difference.
Senior Jack Stanton said the Warriors were lacking defensively in the first quarter.
“I think we came out a little bit flat on defense. We weren’t playing with much intensity,” Stanton said.
In the second quarter, Brookline continued their upward trend and took the lead. Point guard Devani Perez had an impressive performance and helped lead the team back on the right track towards victory.
Senior Obi Ukomadu said that Perez stood out during the game.
“Devani is a great captain; he had a great performance and really helped the team,” Ukomadu said.
During the game, fans from both sides were united in chants which skyrocketed the energy and intensity of the game.
“The second quarter came and we were all amped. Everyone in the crowd really got us going,” Stanton said.
The Warriors maintained their lead through the second quarter and went into the half up 41-26.
In the third quarter, the Lions began their comeback; however, the Warriors were able to maintain a 57-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Head coach Courtney Valentine said he was proud of the way his team played and noted their effort on the court.
“I saw on one possession two guys dove on the floor for a loose ball. That is an indicator that they are locked in and ready to play,” Valentine said.
The Warriors’ hard work paid off in the fourth quarter as victory became more and more imminent. Brookline maintained a steady 10 point lead throughout the quarter and as the time ran down, the Warriors fans broke out in a chorus of “goodbye” chants to the Lions.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Warriors’ fans erupted in cheers and flooded the court before being restricted by administrators and police officers. The energy did not waiver until the team came out of the locker room and fans were finally able to congratulate them.
Stanton said that though many on the team had especially good performances in the game, the win was a team effort and everybody pulled through.
“I think the beauty of tonight is that we all played well together,” Stanton said. “Everybody had a good game. The chemistry was there tonight; it was great.”
As the boys team celebrated their win, the girls began to take the court to prepare for their own game. About three quarters of the fans left at the conclusion of the boys game and some of those who left returned 30 minutes later to support the girls, but fans were fewer in numbers and in energy in the second game.
Despite fewer spectators than their male counterparts, there were still many people in Schluntz at 7:15 to support the girls. The girls team has seen less fans overall throughout the course of the season, and Friday night was a big increase from their typical amount, according to head coach Kendell Jones. He said this made his team nervous going in, but he told them to use the fans to their advantage.
“I told the team to embrace the challenge, to work together, to have fun and just play basketball. I think they were nervous about having the crowd, but you have to feed off that energy,” Jones said.
The Warriors went into the game ranked 10th in the state and faced the 26th ranked Algonquin team. The game began at 7:15p.m.
Junior Geanna Bryant was the first on the scoreboard, scoring a 3-point shot and setting the pace for the rest of the game.
Brookline’s offense demonstrated strength in the first quarter scoring 18 points and defensively only allowed Algonquin to score six points.
Junior Maddy Moor said they have been working on their defense throughout the season.
“I think especially on defense we did great. We’ve been working on that a lot because we’ve been told that defense wins championships,” Moor said.
The Warriors defense did not let up in the second quarter and they doubled their offensive points going into the second half with a 39-15 lead.
The third quarter was a continuation of the strong lead the Warriors had maintained in the first half. The Warriors continued to shine and were able to improve their lead to 63-33 going into the final quarter.
Jones said that he was very happy with the team and thought their good performance was entertaining.
“They performed great, they’re fun to watch. When they play defense, when they’re on the floor and they’re running, they’re fun to watch,” Jones said.
Brookline held steady in the fourth quarter and kept their 30 point lead as the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard finalized the victory for the Warriors, with a decisive 77-47 win.
Jones was pleased with the result and with his team.
“We’re a team,” Jones said. “Everybody worked hard and I’m proud of us.”
The girls and boys will continue their playoff run on Tuesday, Mar. 8, both facing their opponents on the road. The girls play at 6:30 p.m. against Woburn, and the boys play at 7 p.m. against Springfield Central.
Contributed reporting by Mila Seifert.