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Charlestown boys narrowly escape O'Bryant, earn playoff berth

Posted by Metro Desk  February 14, 2014 09:44 PM

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It took 6 points in the final minute of the final game of the regular season for the Charlestown boys’ basketball team to clinch a spot in the Massachusetts state tournament. Charlestown earned its 10th win of the season against O’Bryant Friday night in a 68-62 nail-biter on the Tigers’ home court.

The Townies lost five straight games heading into Friday’s matchup by a combined total of just 17 points, and the close losses put Charlestown’s playoff chances in jeopardy.

“We’ve been losing by 2 points, 3 points,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said. “Free throws have been killing us, and turnovers. I thought today we played much better. We controlled the tempo for the most part.”

O’Bryant entered the game with a deceiving 5-19 record, as the Tigers had also lost numerous close games this season.

“O’Bryant’s a very tough team,” Cardoso said. “A very good team.”

Behind 9 points from senior forward Joseph Farrell, the Tigers led, 16-15, after the first quarter.

Charlestown took a 22-18 lead midway through the second quarter after sophomore guard Keywan Platt hit one of two free throws after being fouled by O’Bryant senior center Ben Lawler.

O’Bryant coach Drew Brock called Lawler over to the sidelines and told him to shoot with confidence even after picking up the foul.

After the pep talk, Lawler nailed two consecutive 3-pointers to put O’Bryant back on top, but the Townies rallied and led, 31-29, at halftime.

Cardoso said he told his team to continue to play help defense and remember to box out in order to come away with the victory.

“[I told them to] just be poised, be disciplined,” he said. “I mean if we play disciplined defense we can be a very good defensive team.”

The Townies went on a 7-1 run to start the third quarter. They extended the lead to 12 after a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Jovani Harper-Lopez and a two-handed slam from senior forward/center Freddy Oliveira that fired up the Charlestown fans in attendance.

After three quarters, Charlestown led, 47-36.

The Townies continued to dominate in the fourth quarter. With 4:34 left to play, they held a commanding 10-point lead, but Farrell took control of O’Bryant’s defense and made a statement block on a Charlestown dunk attempt.

The Tigers went on a 13-2 run courtesy of some stifling defense from Farrell and Lawler. With just under two minutes remaining in regulation, Charlestown held a slim 62-61 lead.

Charlestown senior guard/forward Oliver Benner made a layup and Oliveira knocked down two foul shots to put the Townies on top, 64-61.

“I told Freddy, ‘You only have two fouls, you need to be more aggressive. You’re playing like you have four fouls,’” Cardoso said. “And I said, ‘I need every rebound and every blocked shot you can get this next two minutes.’”

Senior guard Taris Wilson hit two free throws to close out the game for Charlestown, securing a postseason berth for the Townies.

Lawler finished with a game-high 20 points for O’Bryant and Farrell scored 17. Platt led the Townies with 17 points and Oliveira added 15.

Charlestown will find out who it will take on in the first round of the playoffs when the MIAA basketball tournament pairings are announced next weekend. Cardoso said he does not care about the opponent, but is going to focus on his team instead.

“I love the fact we’re probably going to be a 16-seed, 17-seed, 18-seed,” Cardoso said. “We don’t care, we just wanted to get in and try to work harder and make a run. We’re in there now so we’re gonna work hard over vacation and whoever we play, we play.”

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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